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- Is Cohen truly repentant? ... Should anyone really care?
Anyone paying the least bit attention has known all that, or most of it, for years. What we learned from Cohen — Trump’s longtime fixer and, in Trumpian mob terms, a made man — were the shocking details. Roger Stone’s WikiLeaks call. The likelihood that Trump knew of the Trump Tower Russia meeting. That Trump’s lawyers had vetted Cohen’s perjured Senate testimony. That the Southern District of New York was investigating further Trump-related felonies. The hush money checks Trump wrote while president, while living in the White House, to reimburse Cohen for paying off Stormy Daniels to keep Trump’s (alleged) affair quiet.
The really depressing thing — also not a surprise — was the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee’s nearly complete abdication of their duties.
With one exception, no Republican asked any questions of Cohen’s revelations about Trump. But even more revealing, not one Republican actually tried to defend Trump against the charges made by Cohen. Instead, they repeatedly dismissed Cohen as a lying liar (we know he’s a liar; he’s going to prison for lying) who should not be trusted or even heard.
The problem, of course, is by saying we should never trust a single word from a lying liar, the Republicans were, in fact, conceding that we should never trust the Liar in Chief, who entrusted Cohen with many sensitive jobs over the years. Either Trump was too stupid to know Cohen was a liar and a bully, or Trump considered Cohen’s willingness to lie for him as one of the strongest points on Cohen’s résumé. It must be said — although I don’t remember anyone mentioning it on Feb. 27 — that an entire line of Trump confidants has been accused or convicted of lying. And, of course, The Washington Post has now counted more than 9,000 lies Trump has made during his presidency.
Maybe the most dramatic moment in the hearing came when Cohen warned his Republican interrogators that, by their enabling of Trump’s lies and other bad behavior, they were becoming just like Cohen and shouldn’t be trusted either.
This isn’t to say anyone should feel sorry for Cohen. He worked for Trump for a decade, admittedly bullying Trump opponents by the hundreds. Is Cohen truly repentant? I have a better question: Should anyone care?
But here is Cohen answering one of his Republican interrogators who was busily bashing him: “I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did, blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.” I don’t know how much truth Cohen told in his testimony — although you’d have to be pretty stupid to lie to Congress after you’ve been sentenced to prison for, well, lying to Congress — but this particular statement was capital-“T” truth, the real thing, truth attached to a small piece of wisdom. (I wonder what Sen. Cory Gardner must have thought when he heard it.)
But when it comes to Trump? Only 13 House Republicans voted to rebuke him. Only 13 Republicans voted to uphold Congress’ role as one of the three branches of government. In the Senate, where the vote will come soon, many Republicans have openly questioned the wisdom of Trump’s approach. But only four have committed to voting to reject the emergency. Still, that’s enough for the rejection to pass.
One of those votes could have been Gardner, who came out against an emergency declaration just before Trump actually declared it. Then, you know, crickets. Now, though, he says he’s studying the resolution, which, by my count, is 54 words long. This commitment to study — Gardner’s default position on all controversial bills — came soon after Gardner made his bizarre early commitment to support Trump in the 2020 election.
In any case, Trump will veto the bill if it indeed passes, Republicans will roll over and Michael Cohen, the rat, the liar, will be proven right. I mean, the big news on the day after Cohen’s open testimony was the failure of the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit in Vietnam. But overshadowing the failure was Trump’s remark that Kim had told him he knew nothing about the torture in a North Korea prison that led to death of American student Otto Warmbier.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said in what can only be regarded as a complete betrayal of Warmbier and his family. Trump also said Kim “felt badly about it. He felt very badly.”
Trump believes Kim, the murderous dictator, whom Trump calls “honorable” and a “friend.” Trump believes his pal, the murderous Vladimir Putin, over his own intelligence services. Against all reason and evidence, Trump believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) when he says he was not involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
So, yes, Cohen is a convicted liar going to prison. There’s no arguing that. But the easiest thing to believe, from Cohen or anyone else, is that there is no need to make up a single lie when it comes to challenging the credibility of Donald J. Trump.
This article originally appeared in The Colorado Independent.