As President Donald J. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen’s testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was interesting, if not predictable. Cohen started out with a bang, revealing most of the day’s information in his opening statement. While the rest of the testimony was uneventful by comparison, there are still some things worth noting about the proceedings.
Here are my five takeaways from Cohen’s testimony:
1. Cohen was there to do damage control to his public image.
Every bit of Cohen’s testimony was tainted by his unspoken (but heavily implied) desire to get his ‘nice guy’ image back. Even while apologizing for his actions, he attempted to turn the tables and suggest that it was not his own fault that he did sleazy things for the near decade he worked for President Trump:
I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions, in part, that I made.
While professing his wish to simply set the record straight before going to jail, Cohen managed to sing his own praises an obnoxiously high number of times. He also was unwilling to rule out any future book or movie deals.
2. Presented documents gave the strongest arguments.
Cohen made many claims throughout the day, but the strongest arguments he made were those backed by documentation. Whether you think his allegations and testimony are accurate or not, bringing written evidence with him to present, such as copies of checks signed by President Trump, was subjectively his smartest move of the day.
3. Bipartisan bickering kept to a minimum.
While there were certainly a few jabs and disagreements, I was pleasantly surprised by how minimal the bipartisan bickering was, especially since the committee was divided on having Cohen testify. Chairman Elijah Cummings (D – MD) was fair in how he ran the committee, and the members primarily focused on questioning Cohen, not infighting.
4. Second investigation throws twist into testimony.
Most of the day was simple regurgitation of information, but an interesting point was raised by the mention of another ongoing investigation.
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D – IL) asked, “Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?” Cohen responded, “Yes, and again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”
Cohen refused to answer questions at a few different points because of this investigation. He additionally implied that the New York prosecutors are investigating the Trump Organization, along with digging into conversations that took place between Trump and his advisers after a FBI raid last April.
5. Arrogance, disrespect for proceedings helped remove Cohen’s credibility.
As noted many times, the fact that Cohen is jailbound and previously lied to Congress is enough to discredit him as a witness. However, his arrogance and disrespect for the days proceedings were enough to discredit him even further. He was especially juvenile in his treatment of Republican committee members, ranging from outright dismissal of their questions to arguing that they were exactly the same as him for entering a relevant article into the record.
At the end of the day, new information may have been gained, but Cohen’s arrogant and smug behavior throughout the entire hearing did not do him any favors.
Missed the day’s testimony? Watch it here: