The Corner

Politics & Policy

Some Early Thoughts on the Clown Show

Michael Cohen, flanked by attorneys Lanny Davis (left) and Mike Monico, testifies before a House Committee on Oversight and Reform, February 27, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

I’ve only been checking in periodically with the clown show in Congress today. A few things stand out:

  • GOP Congressmen keep citing mainstream news outlets as dispositive proof of Cohen’s shabbiness and deceit. That’s fine with me, but it’s funny how “fake news” can be useful when you need it.
  • In the early part of the hearings, Cohen was asked about his past statements in defense of Trump as proof that he was a liar. I’m not sure this makes the point his interrogators want to make. If he was a liar when he was Trump’s fixer, that means all of the wonderful things he said about him were lies.
  • The Russia collusion narrative took a pretty big hit today.
  • Cohen is obviously trying to give the resistance catnip in an effort to be a new John Dean, another sleazy fraud who became a hero to liberals because he’s a thorn in Nixon’s side. It’s fine to say that Cohen is a grifter and a liar saying things to save his own skin. That doesn’t make him a good person but it also doesn’t mean all of the things he’s saying are lies. David French had it right yesterday; if there’s no corroborating evidence — cancelled checks, letters, testimony whatever — there’s no reason to credit what Cohen says. Likewise, there’s no reason to think he’s suddenly a good person just because he says things that liberals want to hear.
  • Last, even if you take the extreme, often hysterical, position of some of the Republicans on the committee, that still leaves you with incredibly inconvenient fact that this is someone Trump hired, promoted, and trusted for years. He was a vice-president of the Trump Organization, personal counsel to Trump and a former co-president of Trump Entertainment and a board member of the Eric Trump foundation. He was also deputy finance chair of the RNC from 2017 to 2018. You can insist that Cohen is a horrible, no good, awful specimen of the most coprophagic phylum of humanity but you are still stuck with the problem of reconciling that with Trump’s claims that he is an incredible judge of character and talent and “hires the best people.”

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Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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