Quantcast
Connect with us

Republicans spew incoherent lies and fantasies that serve no purpose but to cover for a manifestly corrupt president

Published

on

- Commentary

From the first moment that Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., feigned outrage before the House Oversight Committee meeting began on Wednesday morning, demanding that Michael Cohen’s testimony be postponed, Republican strategy was clear. They planned to discredit the testimony from Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer by painting Cohen as a liar, a criminal and a cheat, and arguing that therefore no one should believe him.

This article was originally published at Salon

ADVERTISEMENT

The problem is that no one denies that Michael Cohen is all these things, including Cohen himself. Indeed, it’s obvious that Cohen’s willingness to lie and cheat was the main and perhaps only reason that Trump hired him in the first place. Cohen’s history is damning evidence of Trump’s bottomless need for the services of those who won’t hesitate to commit crimes or violate ethical codes on his behalf.

But for some reason, Republicans kept harping during Wednesday’s hearing on Cohen’s history of misbehavior as if it somehow exonerated Trump, who they spoke of in almost reverent tones — when they bothered to acknowledge Cohen’s decade-long close relationship with the president at all. As for Cohen’s role as the deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee — that was mentioned only once and in passing (by a Democrat).

“I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing you’re doing now, for 10 years,” Cohen responded. “I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years.”

As Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., pointed out in a memorable sound bite, it’s not that Republicans are outraged about Cohen’s past lies, it’s that “they’re afraid you’re going to tell the truth.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, as Cohen stated clearly and emphatically, he didn’t just expect people to take him at his word. As he indicated in his opening remarks, he brought receipts: Copies of checks Trump signed to reimburse him for the illegal hush money paid to Stormy Daniels to cover up their sexual encounter, evidence of Trump’s fraudulent use of his nonprofit foundation, and even evidence that Cohen had threatened the schools Trump had attended in order to hide his grades and test scores.

None of this, however, stopped Republicans — one after another, in a drearily repetitious performance — from grandstanding about how terrible of a person Cohen was and how awful it was that he had told lies in the past. Somehow or other, Cohen’s tarnished character is supposed to exonerate the man who hired him and deployed him for a decade as a fixer. Various GOP congressmen even tried to paint Trump as the victim, asking Cohen repeatedly about a hypothetical book or movie deal — which do not exist — as if Cohen somehow owes silence to a former boss who turned his back on him after asking him to cover up his corruption for a decade.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans didn’t even pretend to be interested in the truth about any of the substantive matters Cohen came to discuss. They simply went all out in running defense for Trump and repeating White House talking points. Even under those circumstances, it was difficult to understand their strategy. If their goal is to convince the American public that Trump is not a criminal, repeatedly reminding people that his right-hand man for a decade is now on his way to prison for the numerous crimes he committed on Trump’s behalf seems ill-advised.

But here’s the thing: Republicans aren’t really trying to convince anyone of anything. The entire pathetic display was calculated toward one goal: Giving Trump supporters an excuse to dismiss Cohen’s testimony. For this reason, the defense didn’t need to be coherent, much less persuasive. Republicans simply needed to strike a post of moral indignation and toss out some incoherent catchphrases that their voters can cling to.

There was also a side benefit here: Watching one Republican after another advance this self-contradictory, dishonest nonsense was enough to drive any viewer of good faith slightly mad with rage. And Republicans of our era don’t mind making fools of themselves, so long as they’re successfully trolling the liberals.

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite the Republican distractions and theatrics, though, Cohen’s testimony against Trump was a sobering reminder of how dire the current situation is. Cohen painted a picture of an operation — first the Trump Organization and then the 2016 Trump campaign — that not only was comfortable with criminal deceit and fraud, but frankly abhorred any kind of ethical behavior.

Cohen described how he and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg casually pondered bribing someone else to pay off Stormy Daniels, before they decided Cohen would do it himself. He spoke about Trump’s decades-long history of working with David Pecker of the National Enquirer to bribe all manner of people into staying silent regarding all sorts of Trump stories. He said that “Trump’s desire to win would have him work with anyone.”

“Everybody’s job at the Trump Org was to protect Mr. Trump. Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something,” Cohen said. “And that’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country. It’s exactly what’s happening here in government.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Those words had a certain insight and power, but of course we cannot forget Cohen’s past. The gleeful, brazen bully who became a daily fixture on cable news during the 2016 election campaign has been replaced by this sad man who seemed to waver between self-pity and genuine regret for the things he’s done.

But if Republicans thought that Cohen, in his currently broken state, would cower before them, they had another think coming. Whenever they came after Cohen, his old belligerent self — the man who, by his own admission, threatened people on a regular basis for Trump — peeked out. He shamed Republicans for their current dishonesty and warned them, repeatedly, of the dangers he knows too well of doing unethical things for a man who has no loyalty to anyone but himself.

Those people who “follow Mr. Trump as I did, blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering,” Cohen warned.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee did not, however, heed his warning, continuing to fake outrage and spin out incoherent lies and fantasies that serve no other purpose but to cover for a manifestly corrupt president whose extensive history of criminality are beginning to come into focus.

It would be nice if Michael Cohen were right and everyone who lies for Trump gets their just desserts. That’s certainly what happened to him. But Republicans are so brazen in their corruption for a simple reason: They know that thanks to gerrymandering and the disproportionate representation of voters in rural areas and red states, most of them hold safe seats in Congress. They can lie and cover up Trump’s crimes until the end of time and conservative voters in their districts will continue to support them, doggedly and even enthusiastically, as long as they continue to dish out racist and sexist policies.

That fact lingered like a stale fart throughout the entire Cohen testimony. The accusations that Cohen leveled, many of them backed up with substantial evidence, should be more than enough to oust any president — and that’s all with Cohen carefully avoiding any mention of direct collusion with Russian intelligence to interfere with the election. But driving Trump from office before 2021 would require Republicans, both voters and politicians, to accept the evidence before them, that their president is a crook who is only using them for personal gain.

ADVERTISEMENT

Watching the Republicans spend the hearing attacking Cohen over his known and confessed offenses, instead of listening to what he has to say, makes clear that’s not going to happen — certainly not now, and likely not before the next presidential election.

Despite this, Cohen’s testimony was still addictive TV. Having him sadly but determinedly lay out what he learned from a decade of working for a man he described as a “racist,” a “con man,” and a “cheat” was valuable, even if there was no real doubt about any of those things before this.

It’s difficult, amid the constant reality-show chaos that Trump constantly rains down on us, to step back and absorb the fact that 62,985,106 Americans were so attached to their bigotry and blindness that they were willing to hand the White House over to a shameless grifter rather than a woman who supports social progress. Cohen’s long recounting of so many stories about Trump’s corruption was a necessary reminder of the moral rot that led to Trump’s nomination and election in the first place, along with the moral rot that protects him today.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cohen is going to federal prison for his role in all this, something he reminded the committee frequently in his bouts of self-pity. His warning — or was it a curse? — was that everyone else who played a role in empowering Donald Trump will come to regret it as well. The 65,853,625 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, who tried to prevent this from happening, can only hope that his prophecy will come true.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Foreign diplomats preparing for the worst — another Trump win in 2020: ‘People don’t want to be stupid twice’

Published

on

According to a report from Politico, foreign diplomats are not so sure Donald Trump will be beaten in the 2020 election and are making contingency plans for how they will deal with him should he be re-elected.

The report notes that the win by the New York businessman in 2016 caught foreign governments by surprise with former French ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud admitting, "In 2016, nobody believed he was going to be elected. People don’t want to be stupid twice.”

According to Politico, "There’s no known scientific survey on the topic — few foreign officials would participate in one given diplomatic norms that preclude them from commenting on another country's internal politics. But none who talked to POLITICO were willing to say that Trump will lose. Instead, they pointed to three key advantages for Trump: He’s the incumbent, the U.S. economy is strong and the Democrats have no definitive front-runner to challenge him."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump Twitter-rages at ‘evil propaganda machine’ New York Times

Published

on

President Donald Trump kicked off his Sunday morning by going on a multi-tweet rant about the New York Times where he blamed them for his poor poll numbers and called them "an evil propaganda machine.'

Trump began with, "The Failing New York Times, in one of the most devastating portrayals of bad journalism in history, got caught by a leaker that they are shifting from their Phony Russian Collusion Narrative (the Mueller Report & his testimony were a total disaster), to a Racism Witch Hunt....., " before adding, "'Journalism' has reached a new low in the history of our Country. It is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party. The reporting is so false, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke...But the public is aware! #CROOKEDJOURNALISM."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump suggests hitting France with 100 percent tariff on wine over dispute with Macron

Published

on

According to a report from Bloomberg, President Donald Trump publicly suggested that he would consider a 100 percent tariff on wines coming from France.

The report states that the president recently made the suggestion as part of his trade war that has crippled American manufacturers and farmers while at the same time hitting American consumers' wallets.

Trump's comments came during a recent Long Island fundraiser and were tied to his unhappiness with President Emmanuel Macron and his tax on multinational technology companies.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image