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'The reason there was no defense is because there is no defense'

Why did Trump's GOP allies focus on Cohen's guilt instead of the president's innocence? Because defending Trump's misdeeds looks like an impossible challenge.
Donald Trump
President Donald Trump gestures towards democrats while addressing a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP...

Michael Cohen's sworn congressional testimony yesterday was simply brutal for his former client in the White House. Donald Trump's former fixer not only accused the president of being a "con man," Cohen also made the case that the president is a shameless criminal.

Indeed, it was a challenge to keep up with the list of alleged felonies Cohen believes Trump committed, ranging from financial fraud to campaign-finance violations to perjury. The portrait that emerged was that of an organized crime boss, who happens to be the current president of the United States.

Of course, there are 17 Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, each of whom, to varying degrees, are White House allies. They had several hours to push back against Cohen's allegations and make the case that Trump has done nothing wrong.

But they didn't. GOP lawmakers invested considerable energy into arguing that Cohen is guilty, ignoring the question of whether Trump is innocent.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of Cohen's chief tormenters yesterday, appeared on Fox News last night, and host Bret Baier repeatedly asked why he ignored the underlying allegations against the president. The Ohio Republican wouldn't answer directly.

On ABC yesterday afternoon, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a Trump ally, highlighted the issue:

"The interesting thing is there hasn't been one Republican who's tried to defend the president on the substance. And I think that's something that should be concerning to the White House. Why are no Republicans standing up and defending the president on the substance?"

Christie added that the developments at the hearing were "either a failure of those Republicans on the Hill or a failure of the White House to have a unified strategy with them."

But what if there's a simpler explanation?

An unnamed senior House Republican told the Washington Post yesterday, "Truthfully, it is tough to ignore some of the gross immoral behavior by the president. The reason there was no defense is because there is no defense."

Exactly. It's not that Republicans struggled with their partisan talking points, and this wasn't a failure of the White House communications team to properly prepare its allies.

There was no substantive defense of Trump's alleged misdeeds because Republicans couldn't think of anything. The president appears to have done a whole lot of things he shouldn't have, and at this point, those who hope he's innocent have a bow but no arrows.