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Cohen Hearing Revealed Who the Dems Really Want

And other immediate media reactions
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2019 7:00 PM CST

(Newser) – In his congressional testimony Wednesday, Michael Cohen blasted President Trump's character—"racist," "con man" and "cheat" aren't exactly endorsements—but so far the media is focused on Trump's possible law-breaking. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are all leading with that issue, especially in relation to hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Trump's alleged knowledge of WikiLeaks dumping Hillary Clinton's emails. There's also Trump's apparent suggestion that Cohen lie about Trump Tower Moscow negotiations; Trump's awareness of the Trump Tower meeting with Russians; and the $60,000 Trump portrait paid for by Trump's charity. But even with Cohen's supplied documents, can Trump really be charged?

  • Willful crimes: A legal expert tells the Times that Cohen's hush-money story (Trump apparently approved the payments) could be part of a campaign-finance charge, but prosecutors will need to prove he willfully violated the law. And knowing about the Wikileaks dump may not be enough, others say; active coordination with Russians would be a real smoking gun.

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  • 'Jaywalking' charge: Even the Post is surprisingly tame—"Most of his most important contentions require explanation and inquiry," writes Aaron Blake—while Ann Coulter says the hush-money payments were likely legal and would only amount to a fine anyway: "I'd be more impressed if they got Trump on a jaywalking charge," she writes at Breitbart.
  • Conspiracy: Oddly, a conspiracy case might stick even though Cohen testified that Trump only implicitly told him to lie about the Trump Tower Moscow project. "If you're going to make a case of conspiracy with the Russians, that's going to be front and center," former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg tells the Times.
  • That other probe: Fox News anchor Chris Wallace saw a bigger risk for Trump in Cohen's allusion to an ongoing criminal investigation by the Southern District of New York. "So that raises the real possibility of criminal exposure," he said, per Newsweek.
  • The Trump clan: The Democrats repeatedly questioned Cohen about Trump's family, suggesting that's where investigations are heading. "It will only be a matter of time before the Oversight Committee requests that Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner speak to congressional investigators," writes Kurt Bardella at USA Today.

  • The eye-roll: Rep. Stacy Plaskett is getting some attention for what might be an eye-roll—or at least a look of exasperation—when combative Rep. Jim Jordan got upset about not having Cohen's opening statement in advance, per the Hill. "Stacey Plaskett is all of us looking at Jim Jordan, the last person who should address anyone's character," tweets Atlantic writer Jemele Hill with a video of the moment.
  • Racism: Cohen's accusation of Trump's racism led to an angry exchange between Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Mark Meadows—one that devolved into a question of whether Trump and Meadows each have a black friend. "This is not a helpful way to talk about racism," writes Dara Lind at Vox. "...Nothing new was learned as a result of any of this."
  • Cohen's character: Republicans are slamming Cohen's character on various fronts, including his claim that he never wanted a White House job, per Politico. "Michael was lobbying EVERYONE to be 'Chief of Staff,'" tweets Eric Trump. "It was the biggest joke in the campaign and around the office. Did he just perjure himself again?"
  • OAC: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was "sharp and crisp" near the end of the day when she brought up other possible Trump crimes, like insurance fraud: She "put in perhaps the single most impressive appearance of the hearing," writes Ed Kilgore at New York magazine. See video here.
(Read more Michael Cohen stories.)

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