Tag Archives: Michael Cohen

What to make of this guy?

Donald Trump’s ongoing saga has produced a lengthy cast of characters, good guys and bad guys who are easily identifiable as one or the other.

Except for one fellow.

He is Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer-fixer-go to guy.

I don’t quite know what I should think of him. Is he a good guy because he now is firmly in the corner that opposes Trump and is working to ensure that the ex-POTUS get indicted for crimes he allegedly committed? Or is he bad guy because he did jail time because of the dirty work he did on Trump’s behalf and at his behest?

As I listen to Cohen these days refer to Trump as “the former guy” and as he details his hope that the Justice Department heaves Trump into the proverbial drink, I cannot get past what this fellow did while he worked for Trump.

He assisted in enabling Trump to cover up his so-called tryst with the porn star Stormy Daniels. He maneuvered Trump’s legal strategy at various turns to benefit Trump, which I am certain is why Trump paid him to be his lawyer.

But wait! Cohen did time in jail. He got out and now has become one of Trump’s fiercest enemies. He appears on TV to say frequently that he believes the Justice Department, state attorneys general and district attorneys have the goods on Trump. He makes that assertion with demonstrable glee in his voice and on his face.

I want to believe him, as I have been a Trump critic since long before he announced his 2016 presidential campaign.

If I could just set aside his past role as a Trump go-to fellow, then I would have a less difficult task trying to figure out what to think of his conversion.

For the moment, though, I guess I’ll have to declare myself to be a qualified ally of a guy who purports to know more about Donald Trump than most folks.


Michael Cohen: hero or zero?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am trying to figure out my feelings toward Michael Cohen, the former Donald Trump lawyer/friend/fixer who has turned ferociously against the man to whom he once pledged blind loyalty.

Cohen has written a book titled “Disloyal.” He has been making the talk show circuit from his home, given that he remains under house arrest for crimes he committed on Donald Trump’s behalf.

Cohen is a convicted perjurer, which is a legal word that means “liar.”

Now, though, he is trying to make amends for lying on Trump’s behalf. Cohen has talked about the treachery he performed for Trump, how he got sucked into Trump’s cult of personality. About how he fell for Trump’s sales pitch.

This mixed feeling I have toward Cohen is driving me a bit batty. My first instinct would be to salute Cohen for acknowledging the wrong turn he took years ago. However, the damage he did while working for Trump wipes away a good bit of that instinct to cheer Michael Cohen.

I don’t know if I will purchase “Disloyal.” I know a lot already about the man for whom he worked. He won’t tell me much of anything I don’t already believe about him. He says Trump’s hatred of Barack Obama is based exclusively on President Obama’s race … to which I say, “no sh**?”

Maybe, over time, my feelings about Cohen will crystallize. I cannot get there just yet. He means to make amends. I’ll at least give him credit for making the effort. For now, that’s the best I can deliver to this convicted liar.

‘I was never a fan of that war’

Whenever I hear Donald Trump discuss matters of service to country or commitment to something bigger than himself — if that’s possible — I always am left with the feeling of insincerity.

Such as when he talked about the bone spurs that kept him out of service during the Vietnam War. He spoke of that time with Piers Morgan, the former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant with whom Trump is quite familiar. Trump is traveling in Europe this week. He sat down with Morgan, who’s now a British TV personality.

Morgan asked Trump about Vietnam, the war and the bone spur-induced medical deferment he sought and received to avoid service.

“I was never a fan of that war,” Trump told Morgan. He said the war was being fought “far away” in a land that few Americans knew about at the time.


Not a “fan,” eh? Well,  I wasn’t a “fan” of that war, either. In 1968, though, I damn sure knew where it was. I knew what was going on there. I accepted induction into the U.S. Army that summer. I swore an oath to protect the nation, boarded a bus in downtown Portland, Ore., and rode about three hours to Fort Lewis, Wash., to begin my basic training.

I completed that training. I flew to Fort Eustis, Va., where I learned how to service OV-1 Mohawk surveillance aircraft. My training company got orders for South Korea. However, I stayed behind to take care of a medical matter. They canceled my orders for Korea. I got well, then volunteered for duty in Vietnam. The Army granted my request. I arrived in the spring of 1969, served my time there and came home.

Let’s remember that according to Michael Cohen, the former lawyer/friend of Trump who’s now in prison for lying to Congress, Trump once declared that he “wasn’t going to Vietnam.” Cohen said during a congressional hearing that he implored his friend to get ahead of the Vietnam story, but said Trump responded, “Do you think I’m stupid?” and then said he wasn’t about to serve in Vietnam.

Did he declare himself to be a conscientious objector? Did he cite deep emotional commitments to non-violence? Has he ever participated in marches against the war?

Let me think. I seriously doubt all of it.

Trump’s reported declaration to Michael Cohen serves as a Trump-like insult to those of us who did answer the nation’s call during that time of intense national tumult and turmoil.

Thus, when this clown says anything about that time in his life and its intersection with that time of national crisis, well, I don’t get even the tiniest hint of sincerity about his not being a “fan of that war.”

Hicks turns on POTUS; more to follow, maybe

Michael Cohen once was Donald Trump’s lawyer, a man he could count on to “fix” things gone awry. He’s now one of the president’s worst nightmares.

Hope Hicks once served — albeit briefly — as communications director for the White House occupied by Donald Trump. Now she’s gone over the hill, telling congressional Democrats she wants to cooperate fully with them.

Cohen likely was motivated to turn against Trump by a prison sentence he received after pleading guilty to lying to Congress; he is set to start a three-year federal prison term soon. He might, it should be noted, get that sentenced reduced.

Hicks isn’t driven by that necessity. She has told House intelligence and judiciary committee members she lied on Trump’s behalf. She says she’s done lying.

Oh, my. It seems as if this saga has no end. There’s no bottom to this pit. It sinks lower and lower.

Whether the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, provides anything of substance in his investigation of The Russia Thing now seems almost a moot point. There might be other information coming forward from former friends, political allies and associates of the president of the United States.

Cohen, Hicks . . . who else is out there?

Tough talk betrays history of, um, non-toughness

I just cannot get past Donald Trump’s history as I listen to his tough-talk in the moment.

The president told Breitbart News that the military is on his side, as are the police, and — of course! — the “Bikers for Trump.” He said they don’t usually play tough, but they might if things don’t go their way — and favorably for the president.

Then it would get “very bad, very bad,” he said.

Do you remember the president’s reaction to the massacre at Parkland, Fla., when a gunman opened fire, killing several high school students and teachers? He criticized the deputy sheriff on duty at the campus who reportedly waited outside while all hell was breaking loose. Then the president said he would have gone in with guns-a-blazin’.

Imagine that, will ya?

This is the same fellow who when he was much younger had the chance to take up arms against our nation’s enemies in Vietnam, but then developed a case of bone spurs. A doctor issued him permission to obtain several medical deferments that kept him far away from the Vietnam War.

Oh, and then we heard just recently from his former lawyer/fixer/confidant Michael Cohen, who said Trump once told him, “Do you think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam.” Those of us who did go to ‘Nam when the guns were shooting and the bombs were falling well could have taken offense at the “stupid” remark.

Donald Trump’s toughness, I will venture to say, is a figment of his own narcissism.

Why no expressions of love for POTUS from GOP?

I have one more takeaway from this past week’s congressional hearing involving Michael Cohen, the former friend and fixer for Donald J. Trump.

Cohen sat before the House Oversight and Reform Committee and called the president a “racist, con man and a cheat.” He blistered Trump with a series of allegations involving campaign spending violation, tax fraud, potential conspiracy to collude with Russian officials and a host of other matters.

The House panel that heard Cohen’s remarks. Democrats asked him to elaborate on his allegations. The Republican response was most instructive.

The GOP members on the committee did not defend the president. They did not stand up for his morals, for his ethics, his behavior.

Instead they focused their fire directly at Cohen. They pointed out time and again that Cohen was an admitted liar. They sought to remind us that Cohen is going to prison for pleading guilty to lying to Congress. They sought to shred his credibility.

Of course Cohen is not a good guy. He is a liar, even though he proclaimed that he is not — despite having admitted that he lied to Congress. Go figure, will ya?

The point here is that congressional Republicans on the Oversight and Reform panel did not bother to defend the guy outwardly, verbally and with any sense of sincerity. They didn’t say that the president is an upstanding man of high moral character; they didn’t stand up for him as a dedicated public servant.

They sought instead to divert our attention away from what their witness was telling them.

How come? Is the president’s conduct, um, indefensible?

Trump blames Cohen hearing for failed N. Korea talks? Huh?

This one doesn’t compute, Mr. President.

You travel to Hanoi to meet with your new BFF, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un, expecting to score some kind of monumental “deal” to persuade Kim to do away with his nuclear weapons.

The deal making falls through. You walk away. I get why you did it, since you couldn’t get the deal you wanted from Kim.

Then you blame the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Michael Cohen, who spent the day calling you a racist, cheating con man. He called you a shmuck, Mr. President. Many of us agree with your former friend/confidant/fixer.

His testimony didn’t undermine your talks with Kim Jong Un, Mr. President. He was talking about matters far removed from issue at hand in Hanoi.

So, why are you laying blame at the feet of Democrats?

I heard your statement about criticizing the president while he — I mean, you — are overseas negotiating with an overfed tyrant who kills his own people through starvation, torture and assorted methods of execution.

The blame for the failed summit rests with you and Kim Jong Un. Not on Democrats, not on Cohen, not on the brutal storm that is ravaging the middle of the country.

Take responsibility for the times you fall short, Mr. President. Stop looking to lay the blame at the feet of others.

For once!

House doesn’t need a criminal charge to impeach, however . . .

Donald J. Trump put his cheesy side on full display at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting today. He hugged Old Glory as he walked onto the stage before delivering a two-hour harangue filled with four-letter words and assorted demagogic statements about his foes.

OK, I say all that as a predicate for what I want to say next.

It is that Michael Cohen’s testimony this week before the House Oversight and Reform Committee opened the door to possible criminal charges being brought against the president of the United States. The president’s former lawyer/confidant dropped the names of individuals who might know a lot about Trump’s financial dealings and whether they involve possible criminality.

Why is that a big deal?

Let’s revisit an earlier inquiry into whether to impeach a president. In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Nixon on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges related to the Watergate scandal.

I want to note that the committee did not impeach the president on the basis of any criminal charges. None had been brought. President Nixon did not break any laws before the House panel approved the articles of impeachment.

Republican lawmakers scurried to the White House and informed the president that he had no support in the Senate, where he would stand trial once the full House impeached him.

Nixon quit the presidency.

Twenty-five years later, the House of Representatives impeached President Clinton largely on the basis of a single criminal charge: perjury. The president lied to a grand jury that asked him about his relationship with the White House intern.

Donald Trump’s troubles appear to eclipse those that ensnared Clinton in an impeachment and a Senate trial (where he was acquitted). As for the Nixon impeachment inquiry, I just want to reiterate that the president was not charged with a criminal act.

This is my way of saying that Donald Trump might be wading into some mighty deep doo-doo.

No amount of flag-hugging is likely to do him any good.

Trump being audited by IRS? Looks like another big lie

Michael Cohen’s testimony before the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee produced a bushel basket of explosive moments.

One of them involved Donald J. Trump’s tax returns.

Cohen talked to the committee about his role as a public spokesman for Trump, for whom he worked for a decade. The issue of the president’s tax returns came up during the campaign.

Trump decided to buck a political tradition established four decades ago. He didn’t release those returns, unlike other presidents and presidential candidates.

He said the Internal Revenue Service was auditing his tax returns. It’s all normal, he said. That was three years ago!

Cohen told House committee members that he sought from Trump a copy of the letter from the IRS informing him of the audit. None was forthcoming.

And that brings me to the point: I do not believe Trump was being audited by the IRS. He hasn’t produced any sort of document telling us that the IRS was auditing him. I believe he made the “audit” pretext up.

He lied about it!

Cohen was seeking to do the job for which Trump hired him, which was to fend off questions about the audit. Cohen sought some documentation to substantiate what he was telling the media about his boss’s tax returns. He didn’t see anything.

Does that tell you — as it tells me — that Donald Trump fabricated the audit as a ruse to keep the tax returns away from public view?

So, there’s the question: What is this man hiding from us?

Do elections have consquences? Yep, they sure do!

You’ve heard it said that “elections have consequences.”

Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States demonstrates it; he has appointed two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, swinging the court balance to the right. Yes, the 2016 election has consequences.

So does the 2018 midterm congressional election. We saw the consequence of that election today. Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm election.

And today, the Democrats convened a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and received the testimony of Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who then proceeded to tell the world that the president might have broken the law. How? By writing a reimbursement check for what might have constituted an illegal campaign expenditure relating to the payment to an adult film actress who allegedly had a fling with the future president.

We would have heard none of this today had Republicans maintained control of the House in the midterm election. They didn’t. The Democrats took control. They have the chairman’s gavels now.

Let there be no doubt that elections have consequences.

At times those consequences can be profound. I believe we witnessed one of those profound events today.