Believing Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, is illuminated by a camera flash as he leaves a closed-door interview with his attorney Lanny Davis, (right), after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, is illuminated by a camera flash as he leaves a closed-door interview with his attorney Lanny Davis, (right), after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

One would’ve thought that February 2019 would be defined by the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Instead, it may well be remembered for the moment when former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen gave Congress a blistering assessment of Trump’s character.

“I know what Mr. Trump is,” Cohen told the House Oversight Committee. “He is a racist, he is a con man, and he is a cheat.”

Cohen’s words were harsh, but in looking back at the first two years of Trump’s presidency, there were glimpses of the traits Cohen described.

There was the time the president told us that very fine people marched with white supremacists in Charlottesville. Or the time the president sanctioned the caging of undocumented children. There were the times Trump claimed that Mexico would pay for a border wall. That was before the president shut 800,000 federal employees out of work in an effort to force American taxpayers to pay instead.

Cohen could’ve stopped his testimony with his damning assessment of the president as a racist, a conman and a cheat, but he didn’t. He went further, and I believe he spoke honestly, because Cohen, the man who worked for a decade as Donald Trump’s fixer, has already been sentenced to three years for lying to Congress and other crimes. Why would he risk additional jail time by coming back to Congress and lying again?

In my estimation, he wouldn’t do so. That’s why I believed Cohen’s litany of accusations, and that’s why you should believe them as well.

Cohen told us Trump knew in advance that Donald Trump, Jr. would be meeting with Russians in an effort to get dirt on Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Cohen told us that Trump repeatedly lied about doing business with Russia during the campaign. Cohen told us that Trump, once elected, paid Cohen back for the illegal campaign contribution Cohen used to pay off a porn star with whom Trump allegedly had an affair.

There were more allegations in Cohen’s testimony, and I believed all of them. Not just because lying was not in Cohen’s best interest, but also because of what I’ve seen and heard from Donald Trump.

According to the Washington Post, Trump has made over 8,000 false or misleading statements during the first two years of his presidency. In my experience, a person who lies that much is capable of doing just about anything, and that’s scary, because Americans are starting to emulate Trump’s behavior.

This is especially true where race is concerned, because when people hear the president disparage brown immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists,” or hear that he called African countries “shitholes,” they begin to believe it’s okay to belittle and disrespect people of color.

That’s why it was no surprise when I heard that the first lady of Virginia tried to hand cotton to two black students during a tour of the former slave quarters behind the governor’s mansion.

That’s why it was no surprise when I learned that students at The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush are experiencing tensions at the school because of racist remarks aimed at black students.

That’s why it’s no surprise to hear newscasters claim, in the midst of celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday, that it’s a slip of the tongue when they call a great African American hero Martin Luther Coon.

I believe Cohen’s testimony revealed that what we’ve seen of Donald Trump these last two years has long defined who he is.

The sadder truth, however, is that America is more like its president than we care to admit.


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