When Michael Cohen testified in public to House Oversight Committee, those like myself, who witnessed Watergate unfold, were expecting another John Dean moment.
Not only did we get that, we got it on steroids!
There were so many smoking guns that at some point the hearing became shrouded in a chalky haze from all the gun firings.
We saw the check that The Don wrote to Cohen to repay him for the payoff to Stormy Daniels. As you know, Cohen already pleaded guilty to being involved in this crime of violating campaign finance laws and named The Don as the person who instructed him to make the payoff.
He revealed that the Southern District of New York was investigating “wrongdoings or illegal acts” involving The Don that have not yet been revealed. (*See more complete list of Cohen’s smoking guns at the end of the article.)
What we also got was a full on display of a new cult circus called the Republican Party.
Let’s face it, Republicans know that practically everything Cohen stated in his testimony is either true or not far from it. But they are dedicated to annihilating truth in order to defend Mr. Trump and they will go after anyone, from Mr. Cohen to Robert Mueller, who is a threat to him.
It is not like they love The Don or think he isn’t corrupt. What he has is what they need: undying support from the Republican base of close to 90%.
Case in point, before Lindsey Graham turned in to the rabid clown of the Kavanaugh hearing, his approval ratings in South Carolina, where he is up for reelection in 2020 was 40%; after the frothing at the mouth scene, where he defended Kavanaugh like a mother bear protects its child, his approval ratings went up to 70%.
The elixir of power sows the seeds of moral bankruptcy. Graham has become a poster child for this.
But hey, don’t despair, as with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus recently folding their tents after (years) America needs a new circus.
Taking a page out of the “Now you see it, now you don’t,” refrain of magicians, the new circus is “The Blind, Deaf and Delusional Circus .”
Let’s look at some of the best acts the troop performed at the hearing.
Responding to an accusation by Cohen that The Don was a racist, Representative Mark Meadows actually had Lynne Patton, an African-American woman who worked for the Trump family as a party planner and now serves in the administration, to stand behind him, citing her as proof that the president cannot possibly be racist.
It was the old I know a black person, so how can I be racist trope. Ring Master Meadows really blew it. He should have introduced Patton like this:
“Ladies and gentlemen, behold and feast with your very own eyes, as behind you I have a genuine black person. There is no shoe polish, just genuine blackness.”
When Meadows’ action was called out as racist by ? he was incensed. How dare she claim he is a racist as he has people of color in his family? Shame on you! (Meadows does have nieces and nephew of color.)
Is that the same Mark Meadows who was caught on video multiple times during the 2012 election cycle talking about sending Obama back to Kenya? The same Mark Meadows who is one of the most high profile members of a Republican Party that with “almost surgical precision” (in the words of the appellate judges who struck them down as unconstitutional) crafted laws to make it harder for black people to vote?
Hey Mark, I hope your nieces and nephews of color don’t get a look at that video as they might have a hard time calling you uncle.
“Next Ladies and Gentlemen, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, will dazzle you with his dance of deception entitled: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” The passion of this dance will amaze you. Feast your eyes on his dancing feet and marvel in his vocalizations:
One, Two, cha, cha, cha: “LIAR”
Three Four, cha, cha, cha: “LIAR”
One, Two, cha, cha, cha: “PANTS”
Three, Four, cha, cha, cha: “ON FIRE”
And for our grand finale we have Republican Congressman, Clay Higgins, of Louisiana serving up a mighty fine garbled gumbo of “Where the boxes?”**
After Cohen, discussed documents and evidence he had gotten from boxes, Higgins went all Postal Service crazy on Cohen. Here’ my take on the exchange:
Higgins: So you got them documents from some boxes? So where are them boxes at?
Cohen: What do you mean, sir?
Higgins: I mean those boxes have to be somewhere: so where are those boxes?
Cohen: The boxes were in a storage unit in the same building that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner live.
Higgins: Ha! You are a liar. Jared and Ivanka would never have boxes in the same building as you?
Cohen: And why is that?
Higgins: Because they would never stoop to having boxes, that’s why?
Cohen: Is there something wrong with having boxes? Do you have any boxes, Mr. Higgins?
Higgins: What a ridiculous question. Of course I have boxes. Now let’s not go jumping down no rabbit hole wondering about my boxes. So I will ask you again. Now remember Mr. Cohen, you are under oath and perjury is waiting just around the corner. And since Jared and Ivanka couldn’t possibly have boxes: So where are your boxes?
Cohen: I honestly don’t know what we are talking about. It reminds me of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First,” except this is called “Where’s the boxes?”
Higgins: Frankly, I don’t like your attitude. Now tell me: Where are the Fucking boxes?
Cohen: No disrespect Mr. Higgins but have you recently had a head injury that is causing you to perseverate on one thing.
Higgins: I want those boxes!
Cohen: Are you moving or something that you need boxes? I have an account at the UPS store and would be happy to order you some boxes.
Higgins: (screaming at the top of his lungs) Why you little lying fuck-face! When I get through with you, you may find yourself in a particular box that you may not like.
Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for coming to the show. What a day at the circus!
**Cohen said Jay Sekulow and Abbe Lowell — Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s personal lawyers, respectively — made changes to the testimony he submitted to Congress in 2017. The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office determined last year that Cohen gave false testimony and charged him with lying to Congress.
Cohen said it was possible that the entire Trump family was “conflicted” or “compromised” by a foreign adversary during the election because of their efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the time
Cohen said Trump knew about the meeting between top campaign officials, including his son Donald Trump Jr., and several Russian lobbyists offering dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Cohen recalled being in the room with Trump in early June 2016 when Trump Jr. walked in and told his father, “The meeting is all set.” Cohen added that he remembered Trump responding, “OK good … let me know.”
Mr. Cohen testified that he was in Mr. Trump’s office when Roger Stone called and told Mr. Trump that he had just spoken with Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, who told Mr. Stone that “there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
Cohen said Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief bookkeeper, witnessed Trump’s direct involvement in an illegal hush-money payment to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) shortly before the election. Cohen said he and Weisselberg were both in Trump’s office when Trump “directed us to go back to Weisselberg’s office and figure this [the $130,000 payment to Daniels] all out.”
**”Oh my god,” he said when he opened the third. He’d hit the mother lode. In the third box were three years of Trump’s financial statements, from 2011 through 2013, which Cohen pointed to on Wednesday as evidence that the president had purposefully inflated and deflated his personal assets when it suited him—to secure bank loans or land a higher spot on the Forbes 400 list, for instance, or to lower his tax liability. There were also countless personal notes from Trump, scrawled across newspaper clippings, printed articles, and torn-out pages from glossy magazines. One note, written in Sharpie across an unflattering article, urged Cohen to call a reporter and threaten him with a lawsuit; another, on a story prominently featuring Cohen, read simply, “Michael, enjoy this while it lasts.” […]
The box also contained an e-mail with Trump Organization C.F.O. Allen Weisselberg, whose name came up almost as often as Trump’s in the House hearing on Wednesday. The exchange had to do with how Cohen would be reimbursed for the $130,000 payment he made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, 11 days before the election, in order to keep her from going public with allegations of an affair with Trump. (This is extracted from Emily Jane Fox’s article in the Atlantic magazine published on February 28th.)