The testimony last week from Michael Cohen — President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer — was a reminder of the need for vigorous Congressional oversight.
While Democratic members of Congress spent the majority of the seven-hour testimony searching for answers about Trump’s potential wrongdoings, several key Republican members initially tried to prevent Cohen from testifying, and later tried to discredit him by citing his guilty plea to fraud and lying to Congress.
These tactics to discredit Cohen came across as desperate attempts to stop the allegations he had made against Trump. Committee members should not be trying to shy away from testimonies but instead embracing them and doing their civic duty to search for the truth.
Democratic members instead opted to ask Cohen questions related to the allegations that Trump deflated and inflated his assets as well as several of his business ties before and during his presidency.
Democratic representative from Costa Mesa Harley Rouda asked direct questions about Trump’s relationship with Felix Sater, a Russian mafia member who had alleged Kremlin ties. Trump said under oath that he wouldn’t recognize Sater if he saw him, but Cohen said that Sater had an office in Trump Tower on the 26th floor, Trump’s personal floor — showing that Trump’s testimony was misleading at best.
Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York used her time effectively to ask complex follow up questions her fellow representatives’ inquiries. She referred to the “catch-and-kill” strategy of buying the rights to damaging stories from publication about Trump, and if there was a physical or digital collection of all the stories. Cohen responded saying he wasn’t sure but named others, including David Pecker, the chairman of American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer.
These types of questions and answers are the results we expect from testimonies. Conservatives who chose to waste their time by making speeches and attacking Cohen’s merit are doing a disservice to the American people. We need more testimonies in order to fully understand the scope of the investigations that are currently underway.
The Coast Report editorial board is proud of the new local and out of state representatives who sought out answers and the truth instead of trying to hide it. We also hope for more informative testimonies in the future.
As chairman Elijah Cummings said in his closing statement, “When we are dancing with the angels, the question will be asked. In 2019 what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”