Day 783 Thursday February 28, 2019
613 Days to the 2020 election and 691 Days to Inauguration Day
Michael Cohen testified yesterday in an open committee hearing.
Let’s start at after the end of his testimony to the question of “Where do we (or does this) go from here?”
I agree with Donnie Deutsche this ends with RICO charges brought against the Trump organization as a criminal enterprise and the dismantling of said enterprise and the principals going to jail. That would be Donald Sr, Donald Jr, Ivanka, Eric, Jared – at a minimum, and it couldn’t happen to a more despicable criminal organization. Although, I guess the Italian mobsters who actually kill people are pretty despicable too. As far as I know that is not something the Trump organization has done, but the rest? Oh boy.
I, having just read Andrew McCabe’s book, am now quite expert on RICO. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is used to indict a whole organization. It’s used when there isn’t one crime you are trying to arrest for but rather a series and pattern of criminality. It is typically an organization headed by one person who directs others to commit crimes on behalf of him or herself, or for the benefit of the organization. There usually isn’t a formal organization or written agreements, but rather there are understandings. I say this because you aren’t going to find direct written evidence of something like say, “We are a criminal enterprise involved in …” But rather you will find a pattern of communication and understanding.
When Michael Cohen said that Donald Trump didn’t tell him to lie but rather repeated the things he wanted Cohen to believe and say that were Trump’s version of what he wanted people to believe (which were in fact lies) is the way Donald Trump operates.
There will be much said in the future about what was said in yesterday’s hearing. One of the most interesting was one that happened very near the end. The committee went in its questioning by seniority, I believe, and alternated between Democrat and Republican until they ran out of Republicans. At that point there were three or four more Dems left and they were the most junior. By that point in most hearings all the good stuff has already been revealed and there isn’t much meat left on the carcass. That was not the case here. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had her five minutes it didn’t take her whole time to deftly have Mr. Cohen reveal that Donald Trump was guilty of inflating his asset values for insurance and banking entities and deflate them for tax purposes. This would lead to insurance fraud, making false statements to banks, and tax fraud. She then followed up with questions that earned her praise from the former prosecutors that are now commentators (There are a lot of them because Trump fired them all.) Ocasio-Cortez asked who could corroborate what Mr. Cohen had said and would it be a good place to look for this evidence in his tax returns and where might they be found.
Her questions were spot on, to the point, and designed to get the maximum amount of information in a limited time. She even yielded back some of her time.
This as opposed to the Republicans who seemed to have all been given a very limited playbook. Not one Republican ever asked a question related to the point, subject, and purpose of Mr. Cohen’s testifying to this committee. That’s pretty stunning. They made no attempt to try and ascertain any facts. The only thing they wanted to do was discredit Mr. Cohen. It’s hard for me to figure out who was the most odious among them. Virginia Foxx, whom I think is the stupidest woman in the House, was smart enough to only ask the same sort of demeaning and insulting questions that all the rest of them asked, and after a few questions yielded her time to, I think, Jim Jordan so he could go on with his snarky innuendos.
I think the Republicans wanted to establish that Mr. Cohen had lied. Of course, this was known before the hearing even began. But just in case you didn’t know it, they brought it up again, and again, and again. Did I mention that the Republicans said Mr. Cohen was a liar? This was not the only stunt they pulled. There was the delay the hearing stunt because the members didn’t get the statement from Cohen 24 hours ahead of time. This is laughable after all the times they’ve not even shown people bills until they are on the House floor ready to be voted on.
Around the time this was going on a Republican House member wanted to delay the vote on the House bill to stop Trump from declaring an emergency to build the wall because he and his fellow Republicans hadn’t had time to go over the language of the bill and make markups to it. Sounds reasonable right? Yeah, sounds reasonable until you realize that the whole bill is this (via a direct cut and paste from the House website):
Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019.
- 1 Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives
- 2 of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
- 3 That, pursuant to section 202 of the National Emer-
- 4 gencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622), the national emergency de-
- 5 clared by the finding of the President on February 15,1 2019, in Proclamation 9844 (84 Fed. Reg. 4949) is here-
2 by terminated.
Let’s be clear, the Republicans, for whatever reason have no interest in governing, in finding out the truth, they seem bent on staying in power, and if not in power mucking things up as much as possible.
The most egregious example of a Republican stunt was Mark Meadows’ bringing a black woman out to stand there as he went on to say that she works for Trump and she has never seen or heard him say a bad thing about black people. Gee. Can she talk? This was so outrageous to every woman of color that I saw on TV (Representatives, commentators, interviewees) that they all spoke up. And when Meadows got called out for it he was offended because someone had insinuated that he was a racist. Hey, Mark we aren’t saying you are a racist. Oh no. We are saying that anyone who hauls a black woman out on a committee room, points to her and says she works for a man and that she’s never heard that man use racist language is pulling a racist stunt, okay? No we’re not saying you’re a racist, just because you pull racist stunts, talk like a racist and act like a racist.
btw By that evening there were videos up of Mark Meadows saying racist things.
Then there were all the great quotes from the hearing. The one I liked the best was when the Republican whose name started with a G (Gore? No. Gauss? No…who cares.) started a question about someone being a liar (and despicable human being) and Michael Cohen asked him, “Are you talking about me or the president?”
Then there was the one that listed what the Democrats were interested in and what the Republicans were interested in. Democrats: treason, tax fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, … Republicans: Is Michael getting a book deal?
And oh, Michael’s a liar.
613 Days to the 2020 election and 691 Days to Inauguration Day
PS What’s this? A check, signed by the president? For hush money payments? ( No no no for legal services via a retainer agreement. Oh there was no retainer agreement? Oh. Well, hum. It doesn’t say for “hush money payment” on the check. For all we know it could be a down payment on a Bentley. Am I right? Am I right? Did someone mention Michael Cohen is a liar? )