Well, America won’t hear from Michael Cohen early next month.
The spectacle that would have been Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee on February 7 has now been “postponed” by Cohen himself and the rationale is highly amusing.
“Mr. Cohen volunteered to testify [but] due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date”, a statement from Lanny Davis reads.
After thanking Chairman Cummings for the invite and assuring everyone that he “looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time”, the statement says Trump’s former fixer needs to “put his family and their safety first.”
The “threats” bit is probably a reference to comments Trump made during an insane interview with Jeanine Pirro earlier this month. For those who need a refresher, Trump took the wild step of attacking a private citizen on national television in the course of talking about Cohen and the infamous taxi medallions. Here’s the clip:
“Trump [is] now urging prosecutors to investigate Michael Cohen’s father again [and] Jeanine asks for the name of the father in law”, an incredulous Maggie Haberman said during the interview, adding the obvious, which is that “this is a really stunning way for the president to target a private citizen.”
The above-mentioned Elijah Cummings was not amused. In fact, he suggested Trump was on the verge of committing a crime.
“Our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress,” Cummings said after the interview aired, adding that “the president should make no statement or take any action to obstruct Congress’s independent oversight and investigative efforts, including by seeking to discourage any witness from testifying in response to a duly authorized request from Congress.”
Right, because again, witness intimidation is illegal. And Trump doesn’t seem to understand the extent to which, by saying things like he said in the clip above, he is effectively building an obstruction case against himself, separate from the obstruction case that’s already going on. That is, in addition to obstructing the Russia probe by firing James Comey (among other things), Trump now risks obstructing Congress’s efforts to protect that same probe, which is being assisted by Cohen. Giuliani isn’t helping matters by constantly deriding Cohen during his (Rudy’s) increasingly unhinged interviews – interviews which, one imagines, Cohen himself finds just as insane as the rest of us, having been Trump’s personal lawyer for years.
Cohen has of course recently confided that he’s concerned for his safety, an apparent allusion to physical threats. And if anyone knows how dangerous the Russian mob is, it’s presumably Cohen’s own attorney.
Needless to say, this is going to be front page news and it’s all kinds of hilarious – I mean, not for Cohen, I guess, but certainly to the outside observer.
The optics are terrible for Trump, especially considering that it isn’t wholly unrealistic to believe that Cohen, given what he presumably knows, has in fact received threats “from Russia with love”, so to speak.
Finally, it’s worth noting that ol’ Mikey goes to jail in March, so this raises questions about whether the public will hear from him at all – unless you want to visit him in prison.