No Cover-Up for Michael Cohen

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough recently made some comments that would leave many people scratching their heads and wondering whether he had watched the same Michael Cohen hearing that the rest of the country recently watched. According to Scarborough, “the Republican members of the House Oversight Committee in plain sight exposed themselves as a political party whose goal and whose purpose and whose central organized principle is to cover up for the illegal and immoral misdeeds of Donald J. Trump.” With all due respect to Scarborough, this conclusion simply defies logic and ignores the fact that Mr. Cohen previously pled guilty to lying, has questionable credibility and is about to serve time in prison. Notwithstanding these “blemishes,” Scarborough opined on MSNBC that “the GOP took a step closer to political oblivion” during the course of Cohen’s hearing. However, a review of what transpired at the hearing entirely discredits Scarborough’s argument and compels a different conclusion.

As a general proposition, Scarborough’s conclusion is unconvincing. More particularly, Scarborough appears to be saying that the fact that Republican members of the House attacked Michael Cohen’s credibility means that they are covering up for President Trump. This line of reasoning is flawed and is easily refuted.

First, Scarborough’s conclusion assumes that President Trump has committed one or more illegal acts. However, to date, the president has not been charged with any crime. What Scarborough, other media outlets, and congressional Democrats hope will happen is irrelevant. Given the absence of any specific crime, it is simply conjecture and hyperbole to accuse Republican members of the House of covering up hypotheticals.

Second, Scarborough’s argument assumes that Michael Cohen was telling the truth when he testified at the hearing. Perhaps Cohen’s statement that he has lied in the past but that he is not a liar was compelling to Scarborough. Many others likely found the statement comical in a sad/tragic kind of way. This is the same Michael Cohen who pled guilty to various crimes involving lying and/or dishonesty. The same person whom the Boston Herald called a “liar, fraudster and convicted criminal.” This is also the same Michael Cohen who allegedly perjured himself at the very hearing that Scarborough referenced when attacking members of the committee and/or the GOP. It is the same Michael Cohen who was recently referred to the Justice Department based on allegations that he perjured himself during the recent hearing.

Contrary to Scarborough’s unsupported and conclusory assertions, House Republicans approached the hearing properly and questioned Cohen in the appropriate manner. Typically, when questioning a witness with a “credibility problem,” or one who has pled to one or more crimes involving lying or dishonesty, lawyers will forcefully attack the person’s credibility in various ways, including, but not limited to, utilizing the person’s prior inconsistent statements or prior crimes and convictions when appropriate (i.e. those involving dishonesty). This strategy is not utilized to “cover up” one or more crimes. Rather, it is utilized to show that the witness lacks credibility, is unreliable, and should not be believed. In Cohen’s case, this was vital.

Perhaps Scarborough should focus his attention on the other side of the aisle. After all, House Republicans were not given copies of the various documents, testimony, and evidence on time, although they were entitled to receive this information in a timely manner per committee rules. Why the delay?

Cohen and his lawyers met with Adam Schiff and Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md) before the hearing. According to Breitbart, Cohen stated, “I spoke to Mr. Schiff about topics that were going to be raised at the upcoming hearing.” In other words, Cohen (with his lawyers), who was scheduled to testify before the committee, met with some of the same people who would subsequently question him under oath about the topics they were going to discuss. At the same time, Republicans were not provided with the relevant documents and testimony until a few hours before the hearing started. These facts, considered together, are somewhat concerning and lend themselves to scrutiny.

Scarborough’s remarks about the Republican members of the Committee and the GOP in general were simply mindboggling when considered in light of what actually transpired at the hearing. The public hearing involving Michael Cohen was a sad day for America and showed how far House Democrats will go to try to remove Trump from office. Many of the Democrats on the Committee led Cohen through a series of predictable questions for the sole purpose of trying to elicit testimony that would hurt the president’s character, implicate the president, and provide grounds to initiate impeachment proceedings. Republicans on the committee, on the other hand, forcefully and rightfully attacked Cohen’s credibility and cast serious doubt about his truthfulness, honesty, and believability. They did not cover anything up. Rather, they implemented a commonly-used tactic that is both powerful and effective.

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