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.”

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.

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.

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Sad Finale

Spoilers Ahead. Look, I share David’s love of Game of Thrones. But I thought the finale was largely a bust, for failings David mostly acknowledges in passing (but does not allow to dampen his ardor). The problems with the finale were largely the problems of this entire season. Characters that had been ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Great Misdirection

The House Democrats are frustrated, very frustrated. They’ve gotten themselves entangled in procedural disputes with the Trump administration that no one particularly cares about and that might be litigated for a very long time. A Washington Post report over the weekend spelled out how stymied Democrats ... Read More

Australia’s Voters Reject Leftist Ideas

Hell hath no fury greater than left-wingers who lose an election in a surprise upset. Think Brexit in 2016. Think Trump’s victory the same year. Now add Australia. Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison shocked pollsters and pundits alike with his victory on Saturday, and the reaction has been brutal ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More
Film & TV

Game of Thrones: A Father’s Legacy Endures

Warning! If you don't want to read any spoilers from last night's series finale of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Right now. There is a lot to unpack about the Thrones finale, and I fully understand many of the criticisms I read on Twitter and elsewhere. Yes, the show was compressed. Yes, there were moments ... Read More