Michael Cohen's testimony isn't delivering 'earth shattering' damage to Donald Trump

James S. Robbins, Opinion columnistPublished 2:45 p.m. ET Feb. 27, 2019 | Updated 3:46 p.m. ET Feb. 27, 2019
 
 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill ahead of the vote on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.Jack Gruber

There was no moment of high drama, and nothing particularly revelatory. The testimony of Donald Trump's former lawyer turned out to be underwhelming.

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The Michael Cohen hearing before the House Oversight Committee was billed as an impending significant blow to the Trump presidency. We were told the coming revelations would be “detailed, sordid and chilling.” The disclosures were supposed to be “earth shattering.” 

Instead, by the mid-afternoon break, there has been no moment of high drama, and nothing particularly revelatory. The testimony turned out to be overhyped and underwhelming. 

This was the first of what promises to be a series of public political spectacles organized by House Democrats seeking to embarrass and potentially impeach President Trump ahead of the 2020 election. The optics were not good. The star witness, Cohen, who previously lied to Congress, was a disbarred, convicted perjurerand tax evader who is on his way to jail. The event was organized by Cohen’s allegedly pro-bono lawyer Lanny Davis, a longtime Clinton family operative, who sat behind him while Cohen spoke. And Cohen’s team consulted with committee Democrats in preparing his testimony. Thus, despite Chairman Elijah Cummings’ (D-MD) statement that the committee was “in search of the truth,” there was no whiff of objectivity in this process. It was a political hit job.

Michael Cohen testifies Feb. 27, 2019.

Michael Cohen testifies Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The most important headline from the hearing should be that Cohen, a “fixer” who claims to have been as close to the Trump operation as anyone could be for over a decade, has no proof of Trump campaign collusion with Russia. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tried to badger Cohen into saying President Trump lied about his Russia dealings, but to Cohen’s credit she failed.

Cohen's thin evidence

Nevertheless, Cohen chose to feed uncorroborated speculation on the issue, for example mentioning a July 2016 phone call he says he overheard in which Roger Stone supposedly told President Trump that Wikileaks was going to publish the hacked Hillary Clinton emails. But Cohen’s timeline is off because Wikileaks had already announced in June 2016 that it intended to publish the emails, so this bomb was a dud. 

Read more commentary:

Jordan & Meadows: Democrats put out welcome mat for a liar. We can't trust Michael Cohen.

Witness intimidation? Organized crime? Investigate Trump, Cohen claims and threats

Ex-Watergate lawyer: Michael Cohen is no John Dean but he still might bring down Trump

There were also questions about the Trump hotel project in Moscow — a plan dating back to the 1980s that never came to fruition. Cohen poured cold water on the Buzzfeed story alleging that President Trump had instructed him to lie to Congress about the project, and said the idea of offering Vladimir Putin a penthouse in the tower was just a publicity stunt to drive up rental prices.

And it is still unclear how this never-completed long-term proposal could possibly connect to Russian interference in an election that — according to Cohen — Donald Trump viewed as simply an “informercial.” It would have been far easier just to build the hotel without seeking the White House. And despite Cohen’s impression that Trump shows deference to Putin, the president’s official record — including pulling out of the INF Treaty, taking a hard line against Russian ally Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and arming Ukraine — would make him the worst colluder in history.

Cohen revealed a reimbursement check signed by Donald Trump on August 1, 2017, that Cohen claimed was evidence in “a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws” regarding payoffs to Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels. This is tied to ongoing investigations by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York of alleged finance violations by the Trump campaign. President Trump denies that the payments violated the law, and that any potential issues arose later because of bad legal advice from people like Cohen. 

Plus it is impossible to believe that someone with Trump’s lifetime of business dealings would knowingly pay someone by check to conduct criminal activity. He’s no Jussie Smollett

This issue will be played out elsewhere, but the primary significance of the check is the date, since Democrats are eager to find any excuse to claim that President Trump has done things while in office that would allow them, in the words of Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), to “lay some sort of soft cornerstone for future impeachment proceedings.”

 

Trump just like other businessmen

Cohen’s assessment of Trump’s character, namely that he is a “racist, a conman and a cheat,” is what you might expect from someone pursuing a vendetta. But he offered no evidence to substantiate his charge of racism, and the documents he produced on other charges seemed trivial.

Cohen told us that President Trump wanted to appear wealthier than he was for publicity purposes while also trying legally to minimize his property taxes, which probably makes him like most wealthy businessmen. Cohen seemed to think it significant that President Trump took action to prevent the illegal release of his SAT scores and college transcripts — documents we have not seen from other recent presidents either. And Cohen asserted that President Trump has no interest in making America a better place, even as the president is in Vietnam trying to keep his promises to do that very thing.

 

Ultimately the hearing delivered none of the promised bombshells, but it did serve the Democratic political narrative as they prepare for the rapidly approaching post-Mueller, post-collusion world in which Democrats need to move on to other ways to attempt to overturn the 2016 election. In that respect Cohen did what he was expected to do.

Now he can go to prison.

James S. Robbins, a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors and author of "Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past," has taught at the National Defense University and the Marine Corps University and served as a special assistant in the office of the secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration. Follow him on Twitter: @James_Robbins

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

https://www.usatoday.com/story...n-column/3002575002/

Original Post

Bai, Cohen alleged that Trump committed financial, banking and insurance frauds. Those get one more time in jail than collusion or obstruction. Plus lots of other names were mentioned as witnesses to Trumps shit so it can only get worse for Trump. Serve his ass right.

yuji22 posted:

OPINION

Michael Cohen's testimony isn't delivering 'earth shattering' damage to Donald Trump

James S. Robbins,

Opinion columnist

Published 2:45 p.m. ET Feb. 27, 2019 | Updated 3:46 p.m. ET Feb. 27, 2019

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill ahead of the vote on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.Jack Gruber

There was no moment of high drama, and nothing particularly revelatory. The testimony of Donald Trump's former lawyer turned out to be underwhelming.

The Michael Cohen hearing before the House Oversight Committee was billed as an impending significant blow to the Trump presidency. We were told the coming revelations would be “detailed, sordid and chilling.” The disclosures were supposed to be “earth shattering.” 

https://www.usatoday.com/story...n-column/3002575002/

Simply the OPINION of a columnist --- NOT the general public.

Since the public testimony has begun, the general public was airing their tweets and weigh in their thoughts. During an ongoing testimony, public perceptions are off limit but later we will hear about them. Indeed, Trump supporters are not moved by Cohen's testimony since he is not credible to testify before the house oversite committee. His motives are his priorities. 

Prince posted:

Since the public testimony has begun, the general public was airing their tweets and weigh in their thoughts. During an ongoing testimony, public perceptions are off limit but later we will hear about them. Indeed, Trump supporters are not moved by Cohen's testimony since he is not credible to testify before the house oversite committee. His motives are his priorities. 

The problem is most of what Cohen submitted is already well known, apart from a few details. The significance of his testimony are those details and the names of others who can be approached for evidence. True, Trump supporters are most likely to ignore the testimony but the agencies will not, if they aren't already pursuing leads from Cohen.

antabanta posted:

Yuji is incapable of recognizing the BS in the article. Only die-hard Trumpers would not see the hearing for what it is.

USA today is no BS. Cohen did not drop any bombshells. This is just a Dem show. 

antabanta posted:

The problem is most of what Cohen submitted is already well known, apart from a few details. The significance of his testimony are those details and the names of others who can be approached for evidence. True, Trump supporters are most likely to ignore the testimony but the agencies will not, if they aren't already pursuing leads from Cohen.

Correct; based on the open and closed sessions, issues have consolidated and hence various agencies/groups will pursue them.

yuji22 posted:
antabanta posted:

Yuji is incapable of recognizing the BS in the article. Only die-hard Trumpers would not see the hearing for what it is.

USA today is no BS. Cohen did not drop any bombshells. This is just a Dem show. 

The article in USA Today is BS. It's a good show and it's great for for the people of the USA and the world.

antabanta posted:
Prince posted:

Since the public testimony has begun, the general public was airing their tweets and weigh in their thoughts. During an ongoing testimony, public perceptions are off limit but later we will hear about them. Indeed, Trump supporters are not moved by Cohen's testimony since he is not credible to testify before the house oversite committee. His motives are his priorities. 

The problem is most of what Cohen submitted is already well known, apart from a few details. The significance of his testimony are those details and the names of others who can be approached for evidence. True, Trump supporters are most likely to ignore the testimony but the agencies will not, if they aren't already pursuing leads from Cohen.

I tend to believe that Democrats knew that Muller investigation report may exonerate Trump on Russia's collusion and hoping that Cohen testimony will give them something to impeach Trump. I support Trump but I don't support witch-hinting. The democrat tactics may be used against them in 2020.  

Prince posted:
antabanta posted:
Prince posted:

Since the public testimony has begun, the general public was airing their tweets and weigh in their thoughts. During an ongoing testimony, public perceptions are off limit but later we will hear about them. Indeed, Trump supporters are not moved by Cohen's testimony since he is not credible to testify before the house oversite committee. His motives are his priorities. 

The problem is most of what Cohen submitted is already well known, apart from a few details. The significance of his testimony are those details and the names of others who can be approached for evidence. True, Trump supporters are most likely to ignore the testimony but the agencies will not, if they aren't already pursuing leads from Cohen.

I tend to believe that Democrats knew that Muller investigation report may exonerate Trump on Russia's collusion and hoping that Cohen testimony will give them something to impeach Trump. I support Trump but I don't support witch-hinting. The democrat tactics may be used against them in 2020.  

Witch hunting? Here is the list of witches smoked out by the hunt:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and...dictments-grand-jury

The full list of known indictments and plea deals in Mueller’s probe

1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, was arrested in July 2017 and pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI. He got a 14-day sentence.

2) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted on a total of 25 different counts by Mueller’s team, related mainly to his past work for Ukrainian politicians and his finances. He had two trials scheduled, and the first ended in a conviction on eight counts of financial crimes. To avert the second trial, Manafort struck a plea deal with Mueller in September 2018 (though Mueller’s team said in November that he breached that agreement by lying to them).

 

3) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But in February 2018 he agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

4) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to making false statements to the FBI.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and 6 months of home detention in October 2018.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and has completed his sentence.

23) Konstantin Kilimnik: This longtime business associate of Manafort and Gates, who’s currently based in Russia, was charged alongside Manafort with attempting to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses in Manafort’s pending case last year.

24-35) 12 Russian GRU officers: These officers of Russia’s military intelligence service were charged with crimes related to the hacking and leaking of leading Democrats’ emails in 2016.

36) Michael Cohen: In August 2018, Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to 8 counts — tax and bank charges, related to his finances and taxi business, and campaign finance violations — related to hush money payments to women who alleged affairs with Donald Trump, as part of a separate investigation in New York (that Mueller had handed off). But in November, he made a plea deal with Mueller too, for lying to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

37) Roger Stone: In January 2019, Mueller indicted longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone on 7 counts. He accused Stone of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his efforts to get in touch with WikiLeaks during the campaign, and tampering with a witness who could have debunked his story.

Finally, there is one other person Mueller initially investigated, but handed over to others in the Justice Department to charge: Sam Patten. This Republican operative and lobbyist pleaded guilty to not registering as a foreign agent with his work for Ukrainian political bigwigs, and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Prince posted:

In American politics, people in Trump inner circle must take the fall for the president of the United States. His bodyguards will take a bullet for him. Remember Oliver North in the Iran contra affairs under Ronald Regan? 

Really? Who took the fall for Nixon? Who took the fall for Clinton's impeachment? And would they not only have to take a fall if the president is guilty of something?

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