Preview Of Michael Cohen’s Appearance On Capitol Hill Today

Wall Street Journal Says Trump’s Former Lawyer Will Accuse The President Of Engaging In Criminal Conduct While In Office, Will Reveal Some Of Trump’s Unreleased Financial Statements, And Will Allege That Trump Has Deflated And Inflated His Net Worth Depending On The Situation

As we’ve heard many times, saying Trump is worth less than he says he is, is the most unforgivable transgression possible.

So Republicans are working overtime, ahead of time to slam Cohen. Mounting both a frontal assault, and a flanking maneuver, the idea being both to discredit Cohen as much as possible, (which is somewhat fair: he did lie about a lot of things to a lot of people), and also put as much as possible out on the table ahead of time so that whatever he says, it won’t seem like much anything new.

The frontal assault is taking a tried-and-true form for the Trump Administration: hurling deep insults, and making wild accusations. Even with Trump out of town in Vietnam, meeting with Kim Jong-un, they’ve got those bases covered. (And some on Fox are arguing Democrats are only engineering Cohen’s hearings to take some of the glory away from Trump, which is ridiculous, because Cohen was ready to testify several weeks ago and only didn’t because he was threatened by Trump.) Anyway, White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying of Cohen:

Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements. Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”

And channeling Trump, one of his most ambitious toadies: Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, who issued a disgusting Tweet, threatening to expose marital infidelity. (Trump threatened to expose Cohen’s “father-in-law” in Tweets when Cohen was originally supposed to testify several weeks ago; we still don’t know what that was all about, since Trump never gave any specifics.) The Daily Kos came out with a long piece about where Gaetz, a relative newbie to Congress with no historical link to the Trump Organization, might’ve gotten such information, if not from Trump himself or a close associate. There’s of course a simpler explanation: it’s a lie or at least unsubstantiated. But since Gaetz’ Tweet and subsequently Gaetz himself got more airtime than anything or anyone else leading up to the hearing, it was a successful stratagem in further assaulting Cohen’s character.

A quick aside: ever wonder how Trump and Cohen came together in the first place? We think we heard this before, but forgot: Cohen was a tenant, and on the condo board of one of Trump’s buildings, and apparently settled a dispute that Trump’s own lawyers were having trouble handling. That impressed Trump, who as he often does, hires somebody on the spot based on his gut. Which has often resulted in disastrous consequences. Anyway, that’s the way the story was reported by the Associated Press, attributed to Cohen’s uncle. So who knows…

As for the flanking maneuver, we would be willing to bet money that most of the leaks about the bombshells Cohen is going to drop, are also emanating from the White House or staffers friendly to Trump in Congress. Democrats don’t need to “preview” that stuff, it’ll be front and center today no matter what. Even though it seems negative for Trump, it’s in his allies’ interests to get it out ahead of time to minimize the impact when Cohen actually says it.

A lot of that info may be coming out of a hearing with Cohen that already happened this week, in the Senate Intelligence Committee, but was behind closed doors. Cohen will appear at another closed door hearing tomorrow in front of the House Intelligence Committee. The open to the public, coast-to-coast session today, will put Cohen in front of the House Oversight Committee. It should start around 10 AM EST. Here’s a link for watching the hearing on C-SPAN.

Those dual lines of attack will result in two lines of argument you’ll be hearing a lot of today: “it’s nothing new”, and “you can’t believe anything he says anyway”.

But there’s only so much Trump and his cohorts can do. Cohen’s been pretty easy to discredit so far (Trump famously Tweeted: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”), but he’s only talked to investigators and grand juries. Today’s really going to be about seeing and hearing from the man. And assessing for ourselves how credible he is, whatever side we’re coming from.

Michael Cohen arrives at court in New York last year with his family

Quick Update To Our Story: “Republican Stalwart Recognizes Trump’s Emergency Wall Declaration For What It Is: An Attack On Congress And The Constitution

The Democrat-controlled House passed the “resolution of disapproval” by 245–182, picking up 13 Republican votes. That would not give them enough votes to overturn a veto by Trump at this point. The Senate is now required to vote on the same resolution within a couple of weeks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that’ll happen by mid-March.