Our Thug Life President
The text of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress today has been released. It’s a doozy. Here’s the entire transcript. It’s a shameful thing to consider that such a man, Trump, is president of the United States. He’s a thug, but there’s not even any Godfather-ly grandeur to his thuggishness. He’s just a dirtbag from Queens. Here’s an excerpt from the testimony. This is not the worst things Cohen accuses the president of doing, not by far, but it’s the most indicative of his character, I think:
Mr. Trump is a cheat.
As previously stated, I’m giving the Committee today three years of President Trump’s financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c to my testimony.
It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.
As I noted, I’m giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation,
which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.
And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.
And yet, I continued to work for him.
Let me be clear: this is by no means the worst thing Cohen accused the president of in this written testimony. For example, he says that Trump knew in advance of the WikiLeaks revelation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
Cohen admits that he lied to Congress, and we know that he’s a tax cheat. The Republicans on the Committee are ripping into Cohen hard on his credibility, or lack thereof. It’s interesting to consider that the Republicans are attacking Cohen for being a scum-sucker for the things he did during the years he was working for Trump. It is certainly true: Michael Cohen is a sleaze. He essentially admits it in testimony, says he’s going to jail, and deserves to. You can say: Why should we believe him now?
Well, read his testimony. It’s 100 percent believable, 100 percent consonant with what we know about Donald Trump’s character. Seriously, read the testimony. Say with a straight face that that doesn’t sound like the Donald we know. Seriously. Come on.
So, you are asking, how could you possibly vote for a man like Trump? The answer is: the moral and political cost of giving power to the other side is even greater. You know why I say that; I’m not going to go into it any further here. We talk about this in some form all the time. It is possible that everything Michael Cohen says today is 100 percent true, and it is still a more moral choice to vote for this immoral man, Trump, rather than for a leader of the party of infanticide, left-wing identity politics, and the rest. Nothing that Cohen accuses Trump of today is more morally appalling to me than what the Senate Democrats did just this week in voting against the Born Alive bill.
But this testimony, what it reveals is some profoundly corrupt stuff. People like me, we aren’t going to be able to get the stink off easily, if ever. Thing is, we knew this about him all along. Nobody can plausibly be surprised. Trump has been this guy all his life.
UPDATE: Chris Christie said on ABC that the Republicans are not attempting to defend the president on substance. Of course not. How could they?
Cohen is suffering, let’s be clear, not because he toed the Trump party line but because he ran a criminal scheme involving New York City taxi medallions and cheated on his taxes.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) February 27, 2019
UPDATE.3: And there we are:
AND SCENE https://t.co/p70tkh3400
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) February 27, 2019
If these transparent efforts to trigger a sense of solidarity among Democrats weren’t grating enough, when he was asked why he was testifying against the president, Cohen insisted it was to protest the “daily destruction of civility to each other.” This from a man who warned journalists reporting on the sordid detail of Donald Trump’s checkered private life to “tread very f***ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting.”
That’s not all that has been forgotten amid Cohen’s quest for absolution. Few seem to recall how Cohen’s associates told reporters that he was “frustrated” by the president’s reluctance to pay his mounting legal fees. They don’t seem to remember how Trump’s allies reportedly worried that Cohen would cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation if they failed to comply with his demands. They’ve forgotten the very public debate in pro-Trump circles over the benefits for Trump of keeping Cohen within the president’s inner circle weighed cautiously against the costs of associating the president with his crimes.
“Good luck on your road to redemption,” said Democratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier near the close of Wednesday’s hearing. “Thank you,” Cohen replied. “It’s going to be a long one.” If the anti-Trump left’s convenient amnesia is any indication, salvation can be purchased for the low, low price of toadying palaver.
I am just sorry that Tom Wolfe isn’t around — and in young, fighting form — to write about all of this for us.