Before we go any further, I want to go on record as saying that I do not feel even the slightest bit sorry for Michael Cohen. He lied to Congress and to the Southern District of New York; he committed bank fraud for ten years he did the bidding of one of the most depraved human beings ever to walk the earth. He knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it with no more care than a person stepping on a cockroach. And now he is headed off to prison to serve a sentence. To paraphrase a line from the movie Ben Hur, what he has done has had its way with him.
But to paraphrase another great line, this one from William Shakespeare, I have not come to bury Cohen, but to give him his due. For as complicit as he was during his years as Donald Trump’s “fixer,” his testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee was nonetheless compelling and enlightening. While Republicans on the committee spent the entire day pointing out what everyone already knew – that Cohen was a convicted liar – they ultimately failed in their bid to quash the one undeniable truth: that Cohen was acting at the behest of Trump. Worse, they didn’t even try to defend him.
It was Trump who – as president – signed the checks that reimbursed Cohen for his illegal payment to Stormy Daniels; it was Trump who was properly identified by the SDNY as Individual One; and it was Trump who stood to gain the most by Cohen’s nefarious actions. Contrary to the what the bubble people keep insisting, attorneys do not, as a rule, disburse funds on their own, not without being directed by their clients to do so. The copy of the signed check that Cohen produced proves that Trump was lying when he was asked aboard Air Force One if he knew about the illegal payments made to Daniels.
Put aside all the “Trump is a racist” remarks in his opening statement. At this point, if you need Michael Cohen to tell you about this president’s racism, you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last three and a half years. The only thing that matters is what Cohen did and for whom. Trump and his sycophants can scream from this highest mountaintop that their guy is a pure as the driven snow, but innocent men are not referred to as “Individual One” in a criminal proceeding. There is no ambiguity in what the prosecutors said about Trump. He directed Cohen to make those payments. The word alleged appears nowhere in the court documents.
And know this about the Southern District. While existing DOJ rules may in fact prevent Robert Mueller from indicting Trump, there is a very distinct possibility that those rules do not apply to the SDNY. That means we could indeed see the first indictment of a sitting president in the history of the country. I’d give my right nut to watch federal marshals show up at the White House with a warrant. Wouldn’t you?
I believe we are months away from a RICO case being brought against the entire Trump crime family for money laundering and obstruction of justice. Remember Allen Weisselberg? He’s the accountant for the Trump Organization who was granted immunity for his testimony to the Southern District. No one knows more about Trump’s finances than him. Cohen cited him during his testimony and I have no doubt Democrats will subpoena him once prosecutors are through with him.
And then there’s the Wikileaks dump. Cohen testified that Roger Stone knew about Julian Assange’s plans to leak thousands of emails from the Clinton campaign and communicated that to Trump. Those emails proved to be quite damaging to Clinton. If this is true, it is by the far the strongest piece of evidence that this president did in fact collude with Russia to influence the election.
Circle this date on your calendar as the moment when Trump’s world began to crumble. He can tweet all he wants, he knows this isn’t going away; and so do Republicans. Forty-six years ago, a man named John Dean testified before Congress regarding a “cancer on the presidency.” Twelve months later, Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace.
If there’s one thing we know about history, it has a nasty habit of repeating itself.