Michael Cohen wanted to be the dean of the White House, but Trump spurned him. Now he’s getting a chance to become the John Dean of Trump’s entourage as he prepares to testify publicly before Congress tomorrow about his former boss. Dean’s testimony led to the downfall of Richard Nixon. Will Cohen’s appearance lead to the downfall of Trump?
Cohen, who has been convicted of tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign finance violations, faces his own credibility gap. Today, as he met behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was disbarred by a New York court. But as former Reagan aide Oliver North’s appearance before Congress in July 1987 during the Iran-Contra hearings demonstrated, congressional hearings can take unpredictable routes. If Cohen is adroit enough, he can play to the cameras, turn the tables on his Republican detractors and torch his old mentor who said that his incipient business deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow was ‘very cool.’
Now, as Trump gads about in Hanoi before his meetings with North Korean despot Kim Jong-un, his flunkeys are deploying everything except Agent Orange to try and destroy Cohen’s credibility before he testifies. Sarah Huckabee Sanders deemed Cohen a ‘disgraced felon’ and ‘a convicted liar,’ terms that can be used about a number of figures who used to consort with Trump before they were caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s dragnet. The Republican National Committee, where Cohen was formerly deputy finance director, is distributing a video entitled ‘Have Fun in Prison!’ about Cohen and RNC Ronna McDaniel (who used to also include Romney as part of her name, but effaced it at Trump’s behest) said ‘This is not about truth, it is a last ditch effort to save face and cast blame on everyone but himself for his crimes.’
In truth, Cohen may well be able to land some serious blows. He plans to accuse him of rampant racism, an accusation that may further dent Trump’s public image, though that does take some doing given the denting it has already incurred over the past few years — a jalopy could compete at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach compared with the way Trump looks after the serial revelations of his sexual and financial machinations.
Indeed, the most promising avenue of inquiry may be Trump’s business dealings, if that’s even the appropriate word. Word is that Cohen may provide lawmakers with documents about Trump’s finances, thereby opening up the prospect of a legitimate inquiry into his tax returns. According to Politico, Cohen plans to provide a document that will ‘refute a claim by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, that Cohen used a $35,000 a month retainer from Trump as reimbursement for paying off [Stormy] Daniels.’ He plans to show in detail that Trump himself was the impresario of any payments to her. Perhaps most damaging is that Cohen is expected to testify that Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg was also involved in the payments. This means that Cohen has a potential witness to corroborate his account of how the payments were ordered and conducted. Finally, Cohen is reportedly going to testify that Trump’s criminality continued while serving as president.
The legal net that Trump has become entangled in after winning the presidency will further tighten tomorrow.