On February 27, 2019, Michael Cohen, who acted as President Donald Trump’s attorney from 2006 to 2018, appeared before the House Oversight Committee for questioning regarding the President’s alleged crimes. Although his testimony did not point to any direct evidence of President Trump directly colluding with the Russian government to influence the results of the 2016 Presidential Election or the 2018 Midterm Elections, Cohen’s testimony painted a scathing picture of the Trump Administration overall. Through his testimony, Cohen alleged that Trump approved a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels in 2017, had knowledge of the 2016 WikiLeaks email dump in advance, and wanted Congress to receive misleading testimony about his close ties to Russia. Cohen expressed remorse for his actions and his loyalty to Trump during a blockbuster hearing before the House Oversight Committee that lasted more than seven hours.
In the hearing, Michael Cohen described President Trump as an “intoxicating” presence. “It seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were wrong.”I regret the day I said ‘yes’ to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way,” said Cohen in a 20-page opening statement. “I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore.” In his closing remarks, Cohen addressed the President head-on, ticking off items on a lengthy list of criticism of Trump’s behavior in office, ranging from his weather-based decision to skip a ceremony honoring veterans to his attacks on law enforcement, the media, and others. “You don’t use the power of your bully pulpit to destroy the credibility of those who speak out against you. You don’t separate families from one another or demonize those looking to America for a better life. You don’t slander people based on the god they pray to, and you don’t cuddle up to our adversaries at the expense of our allies,” he said. “And finally, you don’t shut down the government before Christmas and New Year’s to appease your base. This behavior is churlish, it denigrates the office of the president, and it’s un-American, and it’s not you.” Cohen also used the hearings to make new claims that contradicted Trump’s previous statements regarding his ties to Russia, though he said that he knew of no direct evidence that Trump or his Presidential campaign colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Michael Cohen also provided the committee with a series of documents, including letters he authored threatening Trump’s high school, college and the College Board from releasing his grades and SAT scores, according to Cohen’s prepared opening statement. Cohen also presented a pair of reimbursement checks he received for the $130,000 hush payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about her allegation of a 2006 affair with Trump, an affair Trump says did not happen. Cohen’s documentation and testimony said Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), “raises grave questions about the legality of President Trump’s conduct and the truthfulness of his statements while he was president.”
Over the course of the hearings, Democrats sought to ask Michael Cohen substantive questions and generally respected his time, whereas the Republican members on the committee largely sought to discredit and delegitimize Cohen’s testimony, with one lawmaker describing him as a “pathological liar” due to his previous false statements to Congress. Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), two of President Donald Trump’s strongest Congressional allies, claimed that the Democrats are merely using Michael Cohen to “try to remove the president from office because Tom Steyer told them to.” Additionally, Congressman Meadows correctly pointed out during the hearing that Cohen acted in violation of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 26(b)(3) (which governs Attorney-Client Privilege) by recording his conversations with President Trump and revealing confidential information that was discussed with the President. Moreover, President Trump predictably responded to the hearings by stating that Cohen “lied a lot” and stated that the hearings were “fake” and a partisan tool used by the Democrats.
Despite the fact that nothing entirely substantive was revealed during Cohen’s questioning, the information that was revealed indicated a pattern of deceit and misinformation on the part of President Trump. While there is yet to be found any