What’s Left: The Michael Cohen Hearing

Glynnis Harvey, Assistant Commentary Editor

The president’s personal fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, appeared before the House Oversight Committee on February 27 to discuss the violations of campaign finance law and other crimes he committed at the direction of the President of the United States. The seven hours of questioning were a sea of screaming, frustration and ridiculous moments. It was pretty unbearable to watch.

The Republicans attempted to discredit Cohen by highlighting his past distortions of the truth. Each GOP member took turns insult- ing him. Representative Gosar went so far as to get a graphic made that depicted Cohen next to text that read “liar, liar, pants on fire.” He displayed this weird version of a protest sign behind him as he spoke. I fail to see the effect of this sign other than humor. The Republicans on the Oversight Committee truly put on a show. From Gosar’s sign to Representative Jim Jordan getting so worked up he accidentally yielded his time away before he was finished, the childishness of the day was concerning. Our elected officials should be above this. Representative Mark Meadows tried to dispel Cohen’s on-point claim that the President is racist by bringing out Lynne Patton, a black woman who works in the White House, as “proof ” that Trump is not racist. The use of Patton as a prop was disgusting and only demonstrates the Republican Party’s lack of awareness about their own racism. Their tactics came off as desperate as they attempted to defend the most indefensible person to ever hold elected office.

The GOP’s argument for why we should not trust Cohen is flawed. Cohen is already on his way to prison. A pardon won’t save him. The President has turned his back on him. He lied before Congress before and is suffering the consequences. Michael Cohen has nothing left to lose. Yet Republican House member after Republican House member have failed to cut their losses with their allegiance to Trump and failed to do their job as members of the Oversight Committee, i.e. provide oversight. The most damning statement Cohen made was not about the President but rather the Republican Party as a whole. He looked at the committee and warned the GOP that when you blindly follow and have unwavering loyalty to Trump, like he did, this is where you end up. Tossed aside and left to fend for yourself as you face the consequences of his crimes. Hopefully that comment sinks in sometime soon and the GOP grows a couple backbones are grown.

What this hearing proves is that elections matter. While there is a lot of information we already knew about the President and his team’s shady and illegal activities, more was uncovered and Cohen provided clear evidence to back it up. Insurance fraud, Russian collusion and campaign finance law violation, which Trump allegedly broke while in office, are all serious claims. Without the new Democratic majority of the House, investigating these allegations would be impossible. Democrats are taking action, but they also shouldn’t use this time to grandstand about the state of our nation. Members should take Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lead and come to future hearings with carefully researched questions, with the intent of having them answered.

The Cohen hearing left me feeling disgusted at the state of our nation. The cartoonish rancor that ensued mirrored a “Saturday Night Live” sketch more than actual reality. But it was actually an “SNL” sketch that summed up the absurdity of the state of our nation the best. In the cold open- ing sketch of the show this past Saturday depicting the Cohen hearing, cast member Kenan Thompson impersonating Chairman Elijah Cummins began the hearing by commenting, “Now for any other president this hearing would be the most damning and humiliating moment of their lives, but for Trump, it’s just Wednesday.” And that’s the sad truth. A lot of people, including myself, have been waiting for the moment when something is finally revealed that topples the house of cards Trump relies upon. But I fear this moment may never come. We have been desensitized, a lot of horrible actions have been normalized and our standards have been lowered. While the President has committed endless acts that are impeachable offenses, the day the Senate casts a vote to do so may never come. Our only option? Electing Democrats up and down the ballot. From your local mayor and city council to the office of the President of the United States, we must organize, mobilize and vote. Volunteer on a Saturday for a campaign or donate $5 online. Run for office yourself or encourage leaders in your communities to run. Elections matter, especially the next one.

Contact Glynnis Harvey at [email protected]