Trump’s Congressional Supporters Were Right: Cohen Hearing Was a Media Circus

Listening to Michael Cohen’s public testimony on Wednesday, to me, felt like little more than a cheap catharsis. I’m tired of coming to the same conclusion, over and over, that President Trump is an embarrassment to this country and that Republicans don’t seem to mind — publicly, at least. Every single Republican on the Oversight Committee was united in an effort to discredit Michael Cohen’s credibility, expressing no interest in pursuing his paper trail of evidence, cleaving to accusations and a line of questioning that orbited around his duplicitous instinct for self-preservation, his greedy potential for book or movie deals, and his unredeemable criminal nature. Several dismissed the hearing as a media circus. In a way, they were right.

Trevor Noah’s prediction of what would go down at Wednesday’s hearing best sum up my thoughts: “Good lord this is huge. Michael Cohen is gonna testify under oath that President Trump is a liar, a cheater, a womanizer, and a racist?” said Noah on Tuesday night’s episode of The Daily Show. “What other bombshells is he gonna drop? Is he also going to tell us that Abraham Lincoln didn’t die of natural causes? That Double Stuf Oreos is just regular Oreos with more stuff? Yeah, it’s on the package, we know.”

The reality is that we’ve already heard these same allegations of injustice and cruelty from marginalized individuals who have had the misfortune of crossing Trump’s path: female sex workers, low-income tenants of his properties, small contractors who never were paid for their work, people of color who had to listen to the president blame “both sides” for the Charlottesville rally. While I found it satisfying to listen to Cohen give his testimony with credible equanimity, that feeling was overpowered by the utter disappointment I felt in being reminded yet again that Trump’s congressional supporters have no interest in hearing the facts. Nor did many of the Democrats on the Oversight Committee, for that matter. As Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, put it in an op-ed for the New York Times, “[It] is shocking how few members actually understand the basic function of a hearing — or chose to ignore collective goals in favor of showboating.”

Except, many publications pointed out one committee member in particular who put the American people ahead of campaigning: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Fredrickson wrote, “Like a good prosecutor, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was establishing the factual basis for further committee investigation. She asked one question at a time, avoided long-winded speeches on why she was asking the question, and listened carefully to his answer, which gave her the basis for a follow-up inquiry.” Mother Jones honed in on AOC’s “trap to get Donald Trump’s tax returns,” which she was able to approach as it pertained to allegations that the President had a history of illegally inflating or devaluing assets for his own benefit.

As tired as I am of hearings that go nowhere and the media circuses that the public craves, watching AOC in action has been one of the few things to restore my faith in American politics. Let’s hope more congressional members choose to put their constituents’ best interests ahead of their own at future hearings.