He was a star witness and then some, a former lawyer for Donald Trump who said he started the glory hound’s presidential campaign and that, if this racist, con man and cheat should lose in 2020, he would never allow a peaceful transition. We’re talking about congressional testimony from Michael Cohen, a convicted liar rattling off little that was new in a hearing that was a farce from the beginning.
The House Democrats in charge of the proceeding could have scheduled this nationally watched TV show at any old time, but chose Wednesday, the same day our president was negotiating overseas with North Korea on nuclear weaponry. A possible message to the Communist murderers was that our leader might be shred of power to do them harm so why concede anything? For Trump himself, it could well have been an unneeded diversion while trying to save multimillions from a world’s worth of horror. Whatever, the talks collapsed.
Let’s turn then to the Washington drama and how the well-spoken star of the show — he spent 10 years wading in scum to suit Trump’s standards — had to compete with a long list of supporting actors in entertaining the masses. We’re talking, to begin with, about Democratic representatives focused less on questions than speeches about how great they were, how unspeakably degenerate Trump and the Republicans were, and how only they would do what’s right.
Instead of defending Trump, Republicans replied that Democrats and unjust players in the Justice Department were the threat, and, as to Trump’s faults, they said Cohen was likely lying. But understand that he is facing several years in prison in part for lying to Congress in the past and would surely be caught if he tried it again on specific, testable issues. Several years could become much more, and he is not so dumb as to risk that.
In fact, Cohen insists he is now a good guy. He probably sees his role in history as helping to bring down Trump. His criticisms tended to confirm that Trump was someone who wouldn’t have had a political chance if luck had not provided as scary an opponent as Hillary Clinton to make him president. Many of his core supporters still like him because he has embraced and delivered on worthy goals while too many of his opponents inspire disgust.
When he did get to talk, Cohen told us again how Trump paid a porn star to shut her mouth about a sex session. That’s not illegal per se. He implied Trump was in cahoots with Wikileaks because he was informed of email releases damaging to Clinton. Even if true, that’s hardly proof that he had a hand either in collecting or distributing them. Cohen said he saw Donald Trump Jr. whisper in his daddy’s ear once and heard him say the meeting was set. Legalese may consider that evidence of Russian collusion, but not common sense.
For all of that, there is a place where gotcha dragons lurk. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is said to be investigating financial trickery by Trump. Such matters mentioned by Cohen could lead to impeachment efforts and eventual jail time even if special counsel Robert Mueller’s report lets Trump off the hook on Russian collusion and obstruction of justice.
Whatever happens, we must not yawn about all the egregious excesses we have been facing, such as debasing the basic principle of attorney-client privilege to set this hearing up or an unjust Justice Department making governance harder than usual or the illiberal rise of socialism among some freedom-obstructing Democrats.
Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment will likely be the continued leftist cry, and so it is that real duties will often be ignored for the sake of more disruption. If we do not vote wisely, we citizens could wake up someday and find ourselves impeached, which is to say, torn away from a constitutionally observant political system as well as from trust and our most precious rights and values.
Jay Ambrose is an OpEd columnist for Tribune News Service.