Yesterday President Donald Trump was the main character in two unfolding dramas, one of which he was present and another taking place thousands of miles away in Washington DC.
In the nation’s capital the House Government Affairs Committee brought Michael Cohen before them to testify on what he knew about the President. They were going to be very open on that subject and anything he could tell them that would damn the President would be welcomed by the Democrats on the Committee. The Republicans on the Committee were less impressed with Mr. Cohen and described him as a pathological liar that had been convicted of lying to Congress before and only want to try and make himself look better.
I listened to the hearing and the back and forth questions. Here is what I got from the hearing:
- According to Cohen Trump is a liar and cheat when it suits his purposes. I was shocked to hear this and nobody has ever made that claim about Trump before. I think we all will acknowledge that President Trump plays fast and loose with facts and misspeaks, and even lies, when he thinks it will make him look better. That fact that Trump will lie, and cheat certainly sets him apart from the politicians asking the questions. They would never stretch the truth to gain some political advantage.
- Michael Cohen laid out how, in his opinion, Donald Trump arranged to have him pay off Stormy Daniels. This was a real bombshell revelation. Once again it was something that I believe everyone knows he did and believes he did. The very politician skewering the President for doing this have been guilty in the past of allowing members of Congress to pay off people accusing a member of sexual misconduct. What this charge could evolve into is a campaign finance violation and in the vast majority of times when there are campaign finance violations, there is a fine assessed to the campaign. I have yet to see a politician charged with a crime that would mean jail time for such an act.
- Then there was the Democrats eliciting that Cohen heard Roger Stone call candidate Trump and tell him that he has spoken to Julian Assange and that a ton of Democrat emails would be posted on Wikileaks. Nowhere in that conversation did anyone indicate the source of those leaked emails, just that Wikileaks had them. Trump was told they would be damaging to Clinton and reportedly he said “good.” I am sure we can all agree that no other politician has been told that someone will leak damaging information about their opponent and asked them to stop that leak. Just this week Bernie Sanders was up in arms accusing the Clinton operatives of leaking information about his requests for private jets to campaign for Hillary.
The other point that caught the media’s attention was Michael Cohen stating that he could not answer certain questions because the Southern District of New York has a current investigation underway and they asked him not to discuss any topics related to this investigation. Of course, the Democrats and the media immediately said that President Trump was in legal jeopardy without knowing anything about the investigationThis is where the entire point of the hearing went off the rails. Cohen said that he had no conclusive evidence that the Trump campaign colluded in any way with Russians. He also said President Trump never asked him to lie.
Cohen’s veracity was always in question from both sides. He said that he never wanted a job in the White House but even the liberals in the media laughed at that statement. CNN had reported that Cohen wanted the job of Chief of Staff and thought it would be offered. He later campaigned for a counsel job in the White House. According to friends he was angry that he had been shut out by the then Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. It was then that Cohen decided his best pathway to success was to sell his access to the President and started lining up clients. There was a back and forth on this in the hearing about whether he violated FARA or not, but it really was not important. He was selling his perceived relationship to the President for financial gain. And while Republican and Democrats feigned abhorrence to this practice it is done in Washington every day.
So, the question that is still up in the air is what exactly did the Trump campaign do with any Russians? To this date, I have not seen any concrete evidence that they were smart enough to have colluded. We are being told that the Mueller report will be submitted to the Justice Department soon. House Democrats are demanding that it be released to the public even though the law says it goes to the Attorney General of the United States and he submits a summary to key Congressional leaders. But what if it says there is no evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russians? How will the Democrats and media spin that?
On the other side of the world, President Donald Trump was engaged in his second summit with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. The purpose of this summit, form the United States perspective, was to get the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. North Korea demanded that the United State lift the economic sanctions and in exchange, they would close one of their nuclear facilities. That would still leave North Korea with a pretty large arsenal of missiles and warheads.
Trump did what I think he had to do. He walked away leaving before a scheduled lunch and simply announced that absent a complete denuclearization there was nothing more to talk about. This left Kim Jong Un holding an empty hand and Trump calling his bluff. Kim was banking on the U.S. acting like they did when Iran gave its demands to President Obama and having the U.S. concede on major points without getting much in return. He found out that this was a different President. You may not like Donald Trump but he stuck to his guns on this deal and was not willing to give up on the goal of denuclearization.
The media will depict this as a failure by Trump. But if he had given into Kim they would have said he got played by an inexperienced dictator of a small country. He was in a no-win situation with the media and so he did what was in the interests of the United States and the rest of the world.