At precisely 21 minutes past the midday mark on Feb. 27, Michael Cohen gave the once-over glare at all those Republican puppets posing as U.S. congressmen and then uttered the most obvious statement of the day, no matter your political party.
He’d arrived, before the House Oversight Committee and a national TV audience, as President Donald Trump’s former fixer and self-confessed and “ashamed” liar. Nobody needed reminding of the last point, as Cohen did everything but shred his clothing in repentance.
But the Republicans kept bringing up the lying anyway, as though it might slip everybody’s mind. Their questioning, such as it was, became a great redundancy.
Yes, yes, you wanted to say: We’re all agreed Cohen’s a liar. Now, as he sits here under oath, with Chairman Elijah Cummings’ threat to “nail him to a cross” if he caught him lying again, could we please move on?
And so, at 21 minutes past noon, which was a full 141 minutes since the hearing kicked off, Cohen finally gave his once-over glare toward those Republican congressmen and declared, with a quizzical tone of voice, “Not one question has been asked about Mr. Trump.”
Nor, for the most part, would any be asked by a Republican for the entire hearing, which stretched out to about seven hours.
How can this be?
“The days of this committee protecting the president at all costs is over,” Cummings said in his opening statement. “They’re over.”
Well, half over, anyway.
Even with Cohen’s self-admitted sleazy history, here he was under oath, with documentary evidence to back up his allegations – and no Republican seemed interested in what he was telling them.
But he was accusing the president of the United States of attempting to fix an election with hush money payments to a porn star. He was accusing him of bank fraud, insurance fraud and tax fraud. And of cozying up to the Russians for a real estate deal while hiding such conflicts of interest during the campaign. And of knowing about the hacked Hillary Clinton emails ahead of time. And of using charity donations to buy expensive portraits of himself.
And of being, as Cohen put it, “a racist, a con man and a cheat.”
And not one Republican wants to know more about such charges?
“I said to my beautiful wife, ‘Don’t bother watching,’” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.). “She said, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t.’”
Uh, that’s a real smart lesson there, Chip, ol’ boy – ignorance is bliss.
When the Republicans weren’t berating Cohen for his lying, they were questioning him about any future book or movie deals.
This is their great concern, when the president’s being accused of selling out his own country?
Among the lies Cohen has admitted (for which he’s soon going to prison) is his previous testimony to Congress – testimony that Cohen now claims was green-lighted by Trump (and the president’s attorneys).
And yet, there wasn’t a single question about that from any Republican.
“Our colleagues are not upset about your lying for the president,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told Cohen. “They’re upset that you’ve stopped lying for the president.”
When will the Republicans stop their similar behavior?
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” was reissued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.