“No smoking gun.”
That’s the experts’ verdict on the testimony before the House Oversight Committee by ex-Trump attorney and now felon Michael Cohen. None other than media whore and accused whore-chaser Alan Dershowitz said as much.
It’s a ludicrous statement.
There CANNOT be a smoking gun in Cohen’s testimony. Any crimes Cohen was aware of, documented, or participated in are the province of the Southern District Court of New York, or of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Cohen was under strict instructions not to reveal any illegalities of Trump’s that were a part of either investigation.
Cohen’s best-supported allegations in Wednesday’s testimony were of Trump’s payoffs — during the campaign and while in the Oval Office — for Stormy Daniels’ silence, backed by a copy of Trump’s signed check as president. But Democratic legislators have already averred that campaign finance law violations are not sufficient grounds by themselves for impeachment.
So, no smoking gun.
But plenty of damning testimony. Cohen opened the door wider than even the exhaustive investigation did into the near-bottomless pit of Trump’s financial fraud, expediently raising and lowering his estimated wealth to banks and tax authorities without substantiation. And he invited the supporting testimony of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to the House Oversight Committee.
As another plea-copping former law-transgressor for Trump, Weisselberg will provide, at the least, confirmation of Cohen’s accusations, attesting to the honesty of Cohen’s testimony. With his intimate knowledge of all Trump Organization dealings, Weisselberg is likely to open other cans of prosecutable worms for the president, including money-laundering for foreign oligarchs. If Weisselberg does not testify to such crimes on Trump’s part, it’s only because he’s gagged by the criminal investigations of the New York courts.
The dogged questioning of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other new Democratic representatives solicited from Cohen a list of other collaborators who can confirm his allegations.
And what of Trump’s knowledge of Wikileaks releases and the illegal timing of their release to disrupt the Clinton campaign? The proof for that may await the records of Roger Stone, a witness whose current dishonesty is indisputable.
So, how many smoldering guns does it take to equal a smoking one?
The case against Trump as president and decent human being was bolstered by the pathetic grandstanding, rather than fact-seeking, or defense of presidential conduct by Republican committee members. A black woman with no more political experience than family party planner before her appointment to a federal post was paraded as proof of Trump’s racial tolerance. An infantile banner, “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire,” was hung in the committee room. Juvenile stuff — patronizing and embarrassing.
Cohen’s former lies, like those of so many of Trump’s cronies, were done in Trump’s defense at Trump’s insistence. There is no incentive beyond remorse for Cohen, already convicted, to tell anything but the truth now.
Even more compelling than the litany of crimes testified to by Cohen, or the pathetic weakness of the Republican response, was Cohen’s portrait of a Mafioso-style bully so threatening that Cohen estimated the legal threats he issued on Trump’s behalf at 500. That’s a long list indeed of intimidation and victimization.
The smoking guns, an entire arsenal of them, will be those fired in due course from state and federal investigators.
What Cohen gave us was the strongest sniff yet of the rot that pervades a thoroughly corrupt president, his organization and his administration. Thanks to Cohen’s revelations, the stench of Trump’s corruption is overwhelming.
Worth remembering is that impeachment is not about law-breaking itself, it is about conduct unacceptable in a president. Nixon was never charged with a crime, but the revelations of his unlawful conduct forced his resignation.
In time, Cohen’s testimony will be remembered as a key step toward Trump’s forced resignation. Not death by smoking gun, but deadly testimony nonetheless.
See TheDumpTrumpDump.com for the latest in anti-Trump paraphernalia and copies of the quote quiz book: Who Said It: Trump Or This Other Schmuck?