GOP lawmakers come out swinging against former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony – Benjamin Siegel and Lucien Bruggeman, abcNEWS
Republican lawmakers came out swinging Tuesday in the face of damaging testimony by President Donald Trump‘s former “fixer” and former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, depicting the hearing as a circus orchestrated by Hillary Clinton’s allies and angrily accusing Democrats of withholding evidence until the last minute.
GOP leaders circulated talking points ahead of the hearing that documented in detail every time Cohen had been caught in a lie and noted that even prosecutors had at one point noted “his instinct to blame others is strong.”
They also invoked Clinton’s presence: Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, is closely tied to the former Democratic presidential candidate.
“Cohen is going to prison for lying under oath to Congress and no one should believe a word he says in his testimony this week,” according to “messaging” provided Republican members on Tuesday. “Democrats have scheduled this week’s meetings as a way to distract Americans from the historic achievements happening in this Administration.”
Trump himself helped to set the tone ahead of the hearing, noting in a tweet that Cohen was “using Crooked’s lawyer!” – an apparent reference to his nickname for Clinton during the campaign.
The tactics were aimed at blunting the impact of Cohen’s testimony, which could be deeply damaging to the president’s brand.
Cohen, who has been disbarred as a lawyer, described with remorse the threatening letters he wrote on Trump’s behalf and the bidding he did for a man he called “a racist,” “a conman,” and “a cheat.”
Rep. Mark Meadows presses Michael Cohen for “proof” of any racist remarks privately expressed by Pres. Trump.
“Do you have tape recordings of those conversations?…You’ve taped everybody else!” https://abcn.ws/2EkiLIL 94:45 PM – Feb 27, 2019See ABC News Politics’s other TweetsTwitter Ads info and privacy
But while Republicans didn’t pull any punches, they also had to walk a tightrope under House ethics rules. One Democrat has asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate a tweet from Republican congressman Matt Gaetz that appeared to threaten Cohen. Gaetz later apologized and deleted the tweet.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…” tweeted Gaetz.
Speaker, I want to get the truth too. While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.Nancy Pelosi✔@SpeakerPelosiI encourage all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties. https://goo.gl/jVGQD6 5,8714:52 AM – Feb 27, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy24K people are talking about this
At Tuesday’s hearing, Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows stuck to the GOP talking points focused on Cohen’s “pattern of deception.” Jordan, R-Ohio, a Trump loyalist and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, said it was unimaginable that Democratic chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland would rely on Cohen’s testimony.
“It’s certainly is the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing,” Jordan said.
“We are supposed to pursue the truth,” he later added. “But you have stacked the deck against the truth.”
At one point, an exchange between Jordan between the Republican and Cohen grew heated, with Cohen interrupting to say Jordan misstated the facts.
“Shame on you Mr. Jordan,” Cohen said.
Another interesting tactic by Republicans was the invitation of Lynne Patton, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, to sit behind Meadows, R-N.C., at the hearing to push back against Cohen’s allegations that Trump was racist. Patton, an early supporter of Trump’s candidacy, is known for her attention-grabbing tweets and publicity stunts, including a recent stay at federal housing in New York City to draw attention to the poor conditions there.
“I am here in support of @POTUS and in support of the truth, as Michael Cohen (knows that I know) it to be,” she tweeted at the start of the hearing, along with an old picture of her sitting with Cohen. “And the truth is that it doesn’t take you 15 years to call someone a racist. Unless they’re not one.”
She did not speak at the hearing.
Meadows also opened the hearing by demanding that any testimony is postponed until Republicans had an opportunity to review evidence he said wasn’t provided to Republicans until the last minute.