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Cohen testimony should not have surprised viewers

In open testimony this week, Trump longtime “fixer” and attorney (now disbarred) Michael Cohen offered to share the background and details of his decade long relationship in the inner circle of the con artist-made-president, Donald J. Trump.

Was anyone really surprised that Cohen claimed:

• Trump runs the White House as he ran his business, as a small family deal where the only trusted are family members and those who pledge loyalty to the boss, not the nation?

• That Trump sent Cohen to threaten anyone who might attempt to undermine the boss, and that the threats were too numerous to approximate as less than 500 in a decade?

• That Trump relished when Cohen would report that he had forced a vendor to accept partial payment as payment in full?

• That Trump sought to hide his affairs from the public in the 2016 election to help him win the election, and that Trump directed Cohen to use illegal campaign contributions to accomplish those goals?

Was anyone surprised that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, who sought to offer the Russian government “help” in the 2016 election?

Were you shocked that Cohen heard Trump speak with Roger Stone, a longtime confidant, acknowledging that they were linked with Wikileaks in the release of damaging, stolen  Clinton campaign emails? Or that such a revelation provided the missing link to collaboration and conspiracy?

Was it surprising that the president lied to the American people about his involvement with Russia repeatedly in 2016, including his attempt to build a hotel in Moscow?

No, we know who Donald Trump is, and none of the above is anything other than the daily vacuity of character that we have come to know this man to represent.

But there were two surprising elements to the oversight committee hearing this week and the testimony of Michael Cohen.

Perhaps, most importantly, we now know that Trump lied about Russia to our faces throughout the campaign, denying that Russia was behind the stolen emails, when Trump knew all along Russia was guilty. While the president was claiming the guilty could be a 400-pound man in his bed, Trump knew his Russian friends were the actual “supporters” of the efforts to harm his opponent. Further, when Trump publically asked Russia to find  30,000 “missing” Clinton e-mails, Russian hackers attempted to do so the very same day.

The “witch-hunt” Trump has claimed is exposed now for what it has always been, an almost unbelievable and extensive network of contacts between Trump and his campaign that numbered some 18 individuals in repeated lies about Russian contacts that have resulted in convictions and federal charges that are ongoing. Is it even remotely possible that all these Russian contact lies were entirely without rhyme or reason given we now know Cohen has linked the Russians to Trump directly?

Equally significant in the full day hearing was the moral and ethical bankruptcy of the Republican Party, who fully ignored their responsibility to the nation to seek the truth of presidential misconduct revealed through the lens of one within Trump’s inner circle for a decade.

Republicans spent their day insisting that a man who came before them confessing to having lied to them was, indeed, a liar, a fact already in evidence, both by a federal conviction and by Cohen’s opening statements. Their efforts were an embarrassment and a humiliation of what was once a party of honor and distinction.

As Michael Cohen advised the committee, covering for Donald Trump will bring disaster to anyone who follows that path. Republicans, beware, the path you are following in support of the unsupportable will lead you into the political wilderness for decades.

As has been said this week, “We are better than this.”

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.