With eyes shooting daggers and scowls at full tilt, Republicans tore into President Trump’s former lawyer as he testified on Capitol Hill.
Calling him a criminal, an opportunist, a disloyal flunky out to malign the paramount president of an age. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that’s pretty much how they summed up Michael Cohen as his testimony began. And then it got nasty.
Their central thrust is simple: Cohen is a liar.
When Cohen says Donald Trump knew about payments to keep women quiet about alleged affairs, that he encouraged Cohen to lie to Congress, nothing that he openly disparaged African-Americans, and that he was playing footsie with the Russians during the campaign; Trump loyalists howl that no one should believe him because, well, again he is a liar.
They’re not wrong.
In short order Cohen will begin serving a three-year prison sentence for fraud, violating campaign finance laws, and yes – telling lies to the U.S. Senate. He is admittedly and categorically a liar. Here is the thing though: Cohen insists the lies he previously told were at the command of, in service of, and paid for by Donald J. Trump.
Fact-checking journalists (like me) have identified lies told by Trump time and again. And bear in mind, many of the people accusing Cohen of lying now readily accepted his lies when they were told to help Trump.
Yeah, I know, having a room full of politicians railing about the lack of honesty in D.C. is rich – especially these days.
Still, what is a fair-minded voter to make of this room filled with alleged lies, liars, and possibly liars lying about who is lying? Does the handful of documents Cohen produced substantially prove his claims? It’s hard to say. But there is this: Much of what Cohen said was merely another layer of confirmation of already established stories about Trump, his private and professional dealings, and his quest for the White House.
And if moderate voters believe even a little of his testimony more than they believe the denials it could torpedo Trump’s re-election bid and poison his party’s hopes. Honestly.