Fairly early on during today’s House Oversight Committee hearing with Michael Cohen, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) asked the witness, “Mr. Cohen, you called Donald Trump a cheat in your opening testimony. What would you call yourself?”
The president’s former attorney took a moment and replied, “A fool.”
The Kentucky Republican wasn’t quite sure how to respond, and I’m not sure the congressman fully appreciated where Cohen was going with his two-word answer.
While I obviously can’t speak to Cohen’s motivations with any authority, I think in context he was making a broader point: those who put their faith in Donald Trump ultimately come to regret it.
Indeed, the exchange came soon after a related back and forth with Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who asked at what point the president’s former personal attorney gave up on him. Cohen started referencing a series of disappointments – including Trump’s display with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and his response to racist violence in Charlottesville – before turning his attention to some of the efforts from Republicans on the committee to tear him down.
“It’s that sort of behavior that I’m responsible for. I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you’re doing now for 10 years. […]
“I can only warn people the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.”
It was memorable moment in large part because it’s a subject on which Cohen has some meaningful credibility – if only his intended audience would listen.
As Trump’s former “fixer,” Cohen knows from personal experience what it means to cover for Trump, try to shield Trump from accountability, to go after Trump’s foes, and to defend him without regard for merit.
Cohen’s job, to a very real extent, was to make Donald Trump’s problems go away. After watching GOP members of the House Oversight Committee target the New Yorker for a few hours, it appears they believe they have the identical duties.
Cohen now seems painfully aware of the fact that he put his faith in the wrong man, and he seemed eager to tell congressional Republicans they’re repeating his mistake.
Whether one believes or pities Cohen isn’t altogether relevant. When it comes to the president and the dangers of trusting Donald Trump, he has a perspective that GOP lawmakers should probably take seriously.