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Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.

Interpretive transcript of Michael Cohen’s testimony

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By Wednesday, Feb 27, 2019 Viewpoints 11

My interpretive summary of Michael Cohen’s testimony, for those of you who had better things to do than spend all day deploring the sad state of our legislative branch. You’re welcome.

Setting: Big, wood-paneled room very similar, if actually identical, to Kavanaugh/ Blasey-Ford hearing room. This explains the heart palpitations.

Vibe: Tribal ceremony, whereby tribesmen dance around their leader in absentia, throwing protective star dust on his aura and kicking poop on a disgraced former tribe member, while rival tribesmen “from the other side of the aisle” sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Cast of Characters

Michael Cohen, left; Individual 1, right.

Protagonist Michael Cohen (not to be confused with the 432 other Michael Cohens in the NYC phonebook): Sad, gruff male New Yorker of occasional integrity, an eight out of ten on the SNL imitability scale. Plentiful salt and pepper hair.

Individual 1: The orange and thin-skinned, hair-challenged elephant who got out of Dodge and is now in Vietnam who, in addition to having surely committed every crime that Mr. Cohen has been convicted of (but better, and more often), is also an adulterer, habitual sex offender, draft dodger and ridiculer of disabled people, a poor spelling New Yorker of highly infrequent integrity, and ten out of ten on the SNL imitability scale. No hair to speak of.

Protagonist’s New BFFs: Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Reason Protagonist will need to hire a food taster in prison: Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

Two constipated gentlemen sitting behind protagonist: His attorneys.

Blond woman sitting behind two constipated gentlemen: Reincarnation of Farrah Fawcett.

Undignified song lyrics that capture the partisan spirit of the day

R: It was long ago and it was far away, and it was so much better than it is today.

D: It never felt so good, it never felt so right, and we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife.

(Meatloaf, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”)

By the numbers

Times the word “Liar” was invoked to describe the Protagonist, otherwise known as powerless witness: Many

Times the word “Liar” was invoked to describe his lying sack of shit former boss, the current leader of the free world: None

Ukrainian oligarch names learned: 1 (Victor Pinchuk)

Laughs: Zero

Angry white males with Southern accents: So many!

Most Shocking Revelation: The most pressing issue facing the United States is not, according to Representative Miller of West Virginia, the survival of our democracy, but: “Border security and neo natal abstinence syndrome.”

Things that shock the consciences of Republican lawmakers: People who seek to make money from books and movies, attorneys who record their clients, people who mislead bank tellers.

Things that make Republican lawmakers go “meh”: Russian mobster living rent-free in Trump Tower, illicit hush money payments to Playboy model and porn star who President was sleeping with while his wife and newborn infant were at home.

Lamest burn: Some well-combed Republican dude: “Was it exhausting keeping track of all the lies you were telling?”

Best burn: Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ayanna Presley, Rashida Tlaib in the House. “‘Nuff said.” Mic drop.

Red Carpet fashion winner: Florida Representative Steube takes it, in a snazzy checkerboard jacket by MC Hammer. (He also wins prize for Count Olaf from “Series of Unfortunate Events” look alike.)

Most profound comment from Protagonist: “Not one question so far has been asked about President Trump. I thought that was why I was coming here today.”

Words I didn’t realize are easy to confuse until today:  “Ironic” and “Erotic.”

Most Eye-Raising Claim of the Day: “We’re better than this.”

Winners: Pin manufacturers.

Losers: All of us.

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11 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Jim Potts says:

    It’s unfortunate that the newly elected House chose to use such an unreliable character in their search for truth. We can’t really know to what degree his testimony was truthful. Let’s get some better witnesses up there and find out whether or not there’s a smoking gun.

  2. Jim Balfanz says:

    Sadly, you missed the only relevant admission of the entire day. When asked if he knew of any Russian/Trump collusion, Cohen replied “I cannot testify to that having happened.” So the actual reason for the entire “witch hunt” of a duly elected President has resulted in not a single piece of proof of Russian/Trump collusion. Zero; Zilch; Notta.

    And, history was made in the Congress yesterday. For the first time in our country’s entire history, a person CONVICTED of lying to Congress and who will soon be going to prison for it, was brought back to be the “Star witness” for the party that is truly suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    Let the Impeachment hearing begin….

    1. Richard Allen says:

      Jim, there was one other “new” thing that came out yesterday: Cohen’s allegation that Trump knew of the pending Wikileaks dump. I assume that the anti-Trumps have some evidence that Trump lied to Congress about that, which they think is grounds for impeachment or whatever.

      A President lied to Congress? OMG! But every President during my lifetime, Republican or Democrat, has lied to Congress more often than you can count. It’s called politics.

      1. Stephen Cohen says:

        I am not aware of any crime which encompasses a prior knowledge of the release of information stolen by a foreign entity from an American citizen or entity. One crime is stealing from a computer, another crime would be receiving help from a foreign entity in an American election, neither seem to be relevant to the action alleged by Cohen. Let’s see what happens if it is proven that Trump was aware of the meeting with the Russians which was to deliver damaging information on Clinton. All the investigations seem to conclude that there was no actual information revealed, so the legal question is: is it a crime to conspire, or attempt to obtain information or assistance from a foreign government to impact an election. That said, there are clearly federal election law crimes associated with paying off Daniels, and probably federal and state tax crimes depending how the payments to Cohen were treated on the respective tax returns of the payors. There may also be related crimes based on a conspiracy to defraud the United States as well as any perjury. Trump may walk away from the Special Prosecutor, but not from the US Attorneys in the Southern District and the New York State Attorney/General.

      2. Carl Stewart says:

        Mr. Allen—

        Name a president who lied to Congress under oath during your lifetime. (Other than Bill Clinton, who lied under oath but I don’t believe it was in anything said to Congress.) Misstating a fact, whether intentionally or inadvertently, is quite different from what Mr. Trump is accused of doing. I continue to be amazed at how some otherwise seemingly intelligent people continue to support Trump despite virtually overwhelming evidence that he is manifestly unfit to hold any position of power, much less that of the Presidency of the United States.

    2. Dook Snyder says:

      Actually Elliot Abrams who was convicted of two charges of withholding information to Congress re Iran/Contra, who is now magically the Trumpster point man on Venezuela recently testified before Congress … More importantly Cohen connected two important dots in a possible collusion charge – that the President was aware of the Trump Tower meeting where the Russians were offering illegally obtained emails to benefit the Trump campaign and the President’s knowledge via Roger Stone about the transmission of those illegally obtained emails by Wikileaks. The Trump Tower meeting could easily provide evidence of the quid pro quo – Russian desire to have the Trump Administration lift sanctions … I suspect Robert Mueller practices a more rigorous mathematics. Your zero, zilch may add up to part of the American portion of the conspiracy charges he leveled against the Russians. Add the Manafort/Gates/Kilimnik meeting and transfer of polling data to the Russian disinformation campaign and you have another piece …

    3. Carl Stewart says:

      Dear Mr. Balfanz:

      If you are truly interested in the “entire” truth being spoken, then you would have mentioned that Mr. Trump, in his oral comments on Mr. Cohen’s testimony before the House, stated that Cohen testified that there was no collusion. Of course, that is not what transpired; Cohen said that he could not testify to any collusion between Trump and Russia. That is a far cry from him saying that there was no collusion. I think that the majority of people listening to the testimony were impressed with Mr. Cohen’s commitment to telling the truth during the hearings.

      And the idea that the testimony of a convicted felon is worthless is, simply stated, nonsense. A significant number of the convictions obtained by Federal, State, and local prosecutors are based, in large part, on the testimony of criminals. Juries are, in my experience, pretty savvy about separating truth from fiction, even from people who have lied previously.

      Just watch what happens when the recently-passed House bill regarding the emergency declaration gets to the Senate. It is now probably a toss-up as to whether a sufficient number of Republicans will break ranks with the Trump supporters and pass that bill. (Trump will, of course, veto it and Congress will almost certainly be able to muster the 2/3 needed to override the veto.) Susan Collins of Maine, for one, knows that her re-election in 2020 is in a very precarious position right now because of her support for Brett Kavanaugh. She will vote with the Democrats on this one and it is likely that as more and more of Trump’s crimes are revealed, his supporters in Congress (not, of course, the die-hard “base”) will start to abandon him. I know that it is a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but the Republican Party, which has under Trump strayed so far from its core principles, may find itself in an unenviable position as a viable political force in January of 2021.

      1. Carl Stewart says:

        Sorry; that should have read “unable to muster” rather than the opposite.

  3. John says:

    Mere politics. The big government politicians have abandoned the constituents for their own personal power and gain. We the taxpayer are disgusted at the non stop frivolous expenditure of OUR dollars for their gain.
    The millions spent on these games could have easily replaced all the bridges crossing the housatonic. Nope that doesn’t matter to them, their quest for power is what matters. Meanwhile, our bridges are falling apart right in schedule.

    Vote out the crooks.

  4. Stephen Cohen says:

    Sorry, l should have made it clearer that soliciting foreign help for an election in the US is a crime. Whether attending a meeting, one that is not solicited although the stated agenda is to get help from a foreign nation, is a close question, especially when the testimony of those who attended is that it was about foreign adoption.

  5. Dook Snyder says:

    Mr. Mueller is connecting the dots. Given his reluctance to name/warn other possible conspirators he has been exceedingly careful in the wording of his indictments. In this case, go back to his indictment of the GRU hackers “who knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury (collectively the “Conspirators”), to gain unauthorized access (to “hack”) into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

    Additionally “The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2/0, also communicated with U.S. Persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”

    Some of the US laws cited include Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1030(a)(2)(C) and 1030(c)(2)(B) 
and Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1030(a)(5)(A) and 1030(c)(4)(B).

    Add this to the Roger Stone indictment –

    US v Roger Jason Stone Jr.

    “STONE was an official on the U.S. presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) until in or around August 2015, and maintained regular contact with and publicly supported the Trump Campaign through the 2016 election.
    5. During the summer of 2016, STONE spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. STONE was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.
    “By in or around June and July 2016, STONE informed senior Trump Campaign officials that he had information indicating Organization 1 had documents whose release would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The head of Organization 1 was located at all relevant times at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom.
    12. After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign. STONE thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1. 13. STONE also corresponded with associates about contacting Organization 1 in order to obtain additional emails damaging to the Clinton Campaign.”

    “On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”

    “… Later that day, on or about October 4, 2016, the supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had “hear[d] anymore from London.” STONE replied, “Yes – want to talk on a secure line – got Whatsapp?” STONE subsequently told the supporter that more material would be released and that it would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.

    “Shortly after Organization 1’s release, an associate of the high- ranking Trump Campaign official sent a text message to STONE that read “well done.” In subsequent conversations with senior Trump Campaign officials, STONE claimed credit for having correctly predicted the October 7, 2016 release.”

    Then there’s Michael Cohen’s testimony which brings us back to Ms. Clary’s work – that he overheard a conversation between Roger Stone and the President about Wikileaks and the stolen emails and Cohen’s testimony that the President knew of the upcoming meeting with Veselnitskaya – I assume Mueller will gather additional testimony that translates “adoption” into a lessening or lifting of sanctions … the Russian end of the bargain. You can add the Manafort/Gates/Kilimnik cigar meeting and exchange of US polling data to the original; indictments of the Russian Internet Research Agency’sophisticated disinformation campaign and targeted interference with likely swing voters – such data would be invaluable …

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