The strategy of the Republicans was very clear while watching the Congressional hearing where former personal attorney to President Trump, Michael Cohen, testified. Discredit Cohen as a liar who lies uncontrollably and, therefore, we should ignore everything he says. In doing so, it’s a direct, blatant attempt at covering for President Trump.
Yes, Cohen is a liar. He is going to prison for lying, among other things. That is without dispute. The question now is whether that actually means that we should dismiss everything he testified to.
The Republicans and Trump say yes, forget everything he said, much the same way they said that everything in the Steele Dossier has been completely discredited because the most salacious part of it (the pee tapes) was not provable.
But that’s nonsense. Of course we should be extremely wary and very careful about how we view and accept the words from a known liar. It seems ironic that the Republicans don’t use the same standard for President Trump, but that’s another issue.
We have to take what Cohen says with a grain of salt and weigh it all in context with other things that we know in order to determine a reasonable understanding of the truth.
During Cohen’s testimony, there were certain statements that he said that I felt were weak and on shaky ground. The part about Don Jr. going around Trump’s desk and quietly telling Trump that the meeting was all set, for example. Cohen then inferred that they were talking about the infamous Trump Tower meeting with the Russian. That was pure speculation on Cohen’s part and, in my opinion, should probably be dismissed with nothing more to go on. No matter how much you believe Trump is corrupt and that he had to have known about that meeting, it’s also true that he has a lot of meetings and that could easily have been about something entirely different (perhaps a direct meeting with Putin himself through some back channel, for all we know).
Likewise, the stuff about Trump being racist was all based on Cohen’s own claims from what he heard from Trump, with no additional evidence or corroboration. Should we believe it? Those who do not like Trump will believe it and those who support him will not. It doesn’t really get us anywhere.
So, let’s simply throw out all of the statements that Cohen made that have no means of provability…statements that are based solely on Cohen’s personal credibility, which is lacking. Does that mean the entire testimony is discarded?
No, not even close. In fact, the most damaging part of his testimony is still intact. The parts that actually implicate President Trump in actual, probable crimes.
The Stormy Daniels payments (a crime).
Cohen provided evidence to this illegal scheme to keep information away from voters and affect a Presidential election. Not only does it have campaign finance implications, but also financial “cooking the books” tax crime issues for the Trump Organization and Trump personally. We don’t have to take the word of Cohen, a convicted liar, on this. He provided enough information and evidence and names for us to be able to follow-up on it and get to the bottom of it.
The abuse of the charitable foundation funds and auction fraud (a crime).
Again, Cohen provided evidence and names to be investigated further which will make it fairly easy to corroborate or discredit his version of events.
Inflating his assets’ value to fraudulently obtain bank loans (a crime).
Same thing here. Cohen provided documents, names and details that are easily verified. No need to take his word for anything.
Deflating his assets’ value in order to avoid paying taxes (a crime).
All of these things are very substantive crimes for which Trump has been implicated and all of them can be investigated and determined credible based on evidence way beyond just what Cohen, a convicted liar, says. This is true no matter if Cohen is guilty of further perjury during the testimony on some obscure issue like Reps. Jordan and Meadows are charging. It’s true whether or not he is a lying liar that lies.
We know this. Mueller knows this. The SDNY knows this. Trump knows this. And all of the Republicans know it, too.
So why all of the theatrics?
As always, it’s all about the base. Trump’s dwindling options are coming down to attempting to keep the public sentiment for his ouster from exploding. So if he can keep his supporters believing that this is all still a witch hunt and a corrupt attempt at a coup, that may be his only saving grace to prevent impeachment and removal from office, assuming that Mueller and the DOJ stick to the absurd notion that a sitting President cannot be indicted.