Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday appeared to reveal the Republican Party at its worst. Even in the face of devastating evidence that Donald Trump engaged in unethical and outright criminal behavior, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and friends spent most of their time trying to shoot the messenger. But despite a campaign of deflection that would make Trump proud, one thing is clear. If Trump’s former lawyer and fixer is to be believed, we have a gangster in the White House.
But if it were possible for the House Republicans to sink lower than that, their leader may have found a way to do so. In the space of 72 hours, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has made clear that he doesn’t care about the ramifications of Cohen’s testimony.
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, a reporter asked McCarthy his thoughts about Cohen’s testimony. Watch here.
When a reporter asked McCarthy if he was at all concerned about Cohen’s testimony, as well as the evidence he presented to back it up, McCarthy said with a straight face that it “doesn’t give me any pause whatsoever about this president.” The reporter pressed, asking if anything Cohen had said gave him reason to question Trump. McCarthy’s response?
No, I didn’t hear anything during the process, no.
Um, Kevin? What were you watching? Cohen provided canceled checks that Trump had written to reimburse him for the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels–a scheme that Cohen admitted under oath was intended to influence the election. Remember, the hush money payments amounted to an unlawful in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign, since Cohen’s “facilitation” of that payment far exceeded the legal limit for an individual donor to a campaign.
Cohen revealed that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are conducting a criminal investigation of Trump. He also revealed that Trump was personally involved in WikiLeaks’ efforts to weaponize hacked emails to his benefit–even though this amounted to identity theft. What is more, Cohen contended that Trump lied about his business ties to Moscow, and used his Trump Foundation as a massive tax dodge.
In a sane world, any politician presented with this evidence would, if he had an iota of decency, at least question whether the president was a gangster. Not McCarthy.
If anything, this was more shameful than the performance of Jordan, Meadows and Co. While the Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee went out of their way to beclown themselves, you can argue that it was to be expected. After all, most of the Republicans on that committee are members of the Freedom Caucus, the most rabidly pro-Trump element of the House GOP caucus.
But it’s quite another thing to hear the leader of the House Republicans publicly dismiss evidence this devastating. Documented evidence that Trump covered up the hush money payments is not enough to give you pause, Kevin? A president being investigated for criminal activity by a U. S. Attorney–especially a U. S. Attorney that said president appointed–is not enough to give you pause, Kevin? Even allowing for the fact that he represents a Bakersfield-based district that would vote for a comatose Republican, this level of willful ignorance is embarrassing.
McCarthy appeared to googol down on it on Sunday’s edition of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” Watch here.
McCarthy harrumphed that House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler had already made up his mind to impeach Trump on the day Trump took office. He irately demanded to know what Trump did wrong. “Show me where the president did anything to be impeached,” he said.
In case you weren’t paying attention, Kevin, the hush money payments were intended to influence the election. While the Framers made clear that illegal and unethical conduct in the course of running for the presidency was impeachable, Nadler doesn’t believe that’s in and of itself enough to launch impeachment proceedings. But that doesn’t make your dismissal of that evidence any less outrageous.
Even if it’s not enough in and of itself to impeach Trump at this point, it would strongly suggest that Trump is a gangster. And if he indeed condoned the use of information from WikiLeaks, that would also prove that he is a gangster. Both together? At the very least, it is potentially enough to demand that Trump either resign or give up his bid for reelection.
If the leader of the House Republicans is willing to be so cavalier with this information, one really has to wonder–are the Republicans fit to govern?
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