Empty political charades have become a common activity on Capitol Hill over the past two or three decades and, perhaps, going back much longer than that. The latest example was the insistence, by congressional Democrats, that former Trump fixer Michael Cohen testify in a series of hearings before he goes to prison for various crimes, including lying to Congress. For his part, Cohen insists he is on a mission of personal redemption and that testifying again is about doing his part to save America.
The man appears, still, to be having trouble getting his story straight, however, and more than one of his answers to lawmakers has landed him a fresh referral to the Justice Department for perjury.
In truth, his testimony meant nothing, to begin with.
The two House committee hearings – one public and one closed – in which Cohen provided testimony had two purposes: Provide some veneer of credibility to congressional investigations targeting the president and publicly embarrass the man Democrats cannot forgive for having won the 2016 elections.
If Anyone Knew About Collusion, Cohen Did
Cohen has, for some time, made it very clear that he has no interest in providing cover for his long-time boss. That being the case, the former attorney would surely have provided special counsel Robert Mueller with any proof he had that candidate Donald Trump had colluded with Russian officials to steal the election. As the president’s personal fixer, Cohen would have known had it occurred.
In the public hearing convened by the House Oversight Committee, Cohen was asked some very direct questions about the president’s alleged connections to Russia. Given his feelings toward Trump, these days, Cohen would surely have answered those questions in a way that confirmed the collusion allegations. He did not. Other than expressing his own vague “suspicions,” upon which he did not elaborate, Cohen dismissed any notion that he himself had knowledge of collusion or had participated in it.
Democrats know very well, of course, that the Russia conspiracy theory was always nonsense. After all, the Democratic National Committee – along with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – funneled money to Russian officials, via a law firm and a former British Spy, to provide the scurrilous opposition research on Trump that formed the basis for the whole Russiagate affair.
Nevertheless, the president’s opponents are already shifting their attention away from the unraveling Russian collusion narrative in favor of focusing on the possibility that Trump may have some shady financial dealings in his closet. There is also the matter of political consultant Roger Stone, who has also been indicted and who, according to Cohen, spoke with then-candidate Trump about an impending disclosure of stolen Clinton emails.
The man who is about to begin a three-year prison sentence has become a central figure in the Democrats’ quest to impeach the president. Ironic that left-wing pundits, when confronted by the suggestion that there was no Russian collusion, recite the list of Trump associates who have been indicted. And now one of the men on that same list is being touted by the left as the latest patriotic hero who will expose the president’s crimes.
Another Perjury Charge?
Following the Oversight Committee hearing, representatives Jim Jordon (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) referred Cohen to the Justice Department. They cited several statements made by the Democrats’ star witness that are known to be false, based upon – among other things – the findings of the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
It was almost common knowledge that once Trump was elected president, Michael Cohen pushed hard to get a senior White House job; Chief of Staff is one position he was known to have been angling for. When Rep. Jordon suggested to Cohen that his newfound desire to expose Trump to criminal investigation came out of spite for not getting an office in the White House, Cohen insisted he never had any such ambition.
Of the nine criminal counts to which Cohen pleaded guilty, one of them was “making false statements to a banking institution.” During the hearing, though, Cohen told lawmakers he had never committed bank fraud.
These were just two of several statements made by Cohen that GOP lawmakers are citing as false. Should the Justice Department agree, Cohen’s three recent appearances before congressional committees will mean absolutely nothing. In truth, his testimony meant nothing, to begin with. Cohen’s words have no value to anyone. The only thing that is of potential consequence is what – if any – material evidence the special counsel or SDNY obtained from Cohen: Communications, financial records, audio recordings, and so on.
If House Democrats intend to impeach the president – which seems certain – they cannot do it on the basis of anything Cohen tells them and expect to command any credibility. Though it is becoming ever more difficult to believe, there are still some Democrats with enough savvy to understand this. The purpose of the Cohen hearings, then, was not to gather evidence against Trump but to stage a public shaming of him and to make it appear as though Cohen’s appearance was of vital importance to the search for the truth. In other words, it was an empty political charade.