Politics

Michael Cohen’s Testimony Is Really About Impeachment

Forget the racism and bluster and vanity. This is about high crimes and misdemeanors.
by Kim Wehle
February 27, 2019
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Michael Cohen’s prepared statement this morning will make the case for impeachment on three fronts.

(1) Cohen is bringing to his congressional testimony documentation shoring up his claim that Donald Trump committed a felony while in office—a “cover-up” of “illegal hush money” payments to Stephanie Clifford that has sent Cohen himself to jail for three years. The documentation consists of a cancelled check for $35,000 from Trump’s personal bank account written while he was president of the United States “as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.”

(2) Cohen will testify that Trump lied to the American public during and after the presidential campaign about his contacts with Russia; in particular, his efforts to secure a multi-million dollar Trump Tower deal in Moscow. These lies were designed to cover up a blatant conflict of interest for someone seeking the highest office in the United States of America. And Cohen has publicly revealed for the first time that Trump’s lawyers “reviewed and edited” Cohen’s statement to Congress “about the timing of the Moscow negotiations” before Cohen gave it—a statement that gave rise to Cohen’s indictment and plea of guilty for lying to Congress.

Which means that Trump’s lawyers allegedly participated and sanctioned Cohen’s commission of a federal felony that defrauded the American people via their representatives in Congress.

(3) Cohen will testify that Trump knew through Roger Stone that Wikileaks was going to make public dumps of emails that happened to be stolen from the campaign of his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton. Cohen claims to know this because Trump put Roger Stone on speakerphone for purposes of giving Trump the heads-up that this was going to happen. “[W]ouldn’t that be great,” Trump allegedly quipped. Stone is now under indictment for obstruction of justice, false statements, and witness tampering in connection with the Wikileaks collusion.

Put aside the hearsay about racism and Trump’s vanity. The real meat of Cohen’s testimony is going to be the predicate it lays for impeaching the president of the United States.

Kim Wehle

Kim Wehle is a contributor to The Bulwark. She is also a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a former assistant U.S. attorney and associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation and author of How to Read the Constitution and Why (Harper Collins).