Michael Cohen: “I Fear That If He Loses The Election In 2020 There Will Never Be A Peaceful Transition Of Power”
Written by WPVR on March 3, 2019
On Saturday, while Bernie was kicking off his 2020 campaign with a speech of substance, hope and love in Brooklyn, Trump was delivering a hateful scorched-earth address to the far right radical fringe of American politics, “calling the Russia investigation ‘bullshit,’ adopting a southern accent to mock his former attorney general, and asserting that some members of Congress ‘hate our country.'”
The rollicking two-hour-plus appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland offered the president a brief respite from an otherwise miserable week in which his much-touted summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ended in failure and his former personal lawyer delivered explosive testimony to Congress.
A new HarrisX poll for The Hill showed mixed results regarding Michael Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee last week. Survey registered voters, 39% of respondents had no opinion, 37% found his testimony credible and 25% said they did not find him credible. It doesn’t matter that much that 58% of Democrats found him credible but that only 15% of Republicans did. What is important is that self-identified independent voters– most of whom (48%) were unsure– were significantly more likely to believe Cohen (35%) than to dismiss his testimony as not credible (just 18%).
Yesterday, the NY Times published an interesting piece of the evolving historical record, an OpEd by John Dean: I Testified Against Nixon. Here’s My Advice For Michael Cohen. He noted that both Cohen and himself “found ourselves speaking before Congress, in multiple open and closed venues, about criminal conduct of a sitting president of the United States. This is not a pleasant place to be, particularly given the presidents involved.
Polls varied widely after my testimony. One said 50 percent of Americans believed me, 30 percent did not, and 20 percent were not sure. Another poll had 38 percent believing the president, who denied my statement, and 37 percent believing me. The instant polls on Mr. Cohen’s testimony vary by party affiliation, as was the case with my polls. But 35 percent found him credible. I believe that number will grow.
While my testimony was eventually corroborated by secret recordings of our conversations made by Mr. Nixon, before that it was other witnesses who made the difference. I was surprised by the number of people who surfaced to support my account. The same, I suspect, will happen for Michael Cohen. The Mafia’s code of omertà has no force in public service. I have heard no one other than Roger Stone say he will go to jail for Donald Trump.
Mr. Cohen should understand that if Mr. Trump is removed from office, or defeated in 2020, in part because of his testimony, he will be reminded of it for the rest of his life. He will be blamed by Republicans but appreciated by Democrats. If he achieves anything short of discovering the cure for cancer, he will always live in this pigeonhole. How do I know this? I am still dealing with it.
Just as Mr. Nixon had his admirers and apologists, so it is with Mr. Trump. Some of these people will forever be rewriting history, and they will try to rewrite it at Mr. Cohen’s expense. They will put words in his mouth that he never spoke. They will place him at events at which he wasn’t present and locations where he has never been. Some have tried rewriting my life, and they will rewrite his, too.
I am thinking of people like Mr. Stone, the longtime Trump associate who worked on the 1972 Nixon campaign and so admires the former president that he has a tattoo of the man’s likeness between his shoulder blades. Mr. Stone, whom I never met while at the White House, has been indicted as part of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, on charges of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He prides himself as a political dirty trickster, and he has never met a conspiracy theory he did not believe. Mr. Cohen can be sure that Mr. Stone will promote new conspiracy theories to defend Mr. Trump and himself, even if it means rewriting history. Presidential scandals tend to attract a remarkable number of dishonest “historians.”
There is one overarching similarity that Mr. Cohen and I share. He came to understand and reject Mr. Trump as I did Mr. Nixon.
Mr. Nixon first called on me regarding Watergate some eight months after the arrests of his re-election committee operatives at the Watergate. We had 37 conversations, and when I felt I had his confidence, I tried but failed to get him to end the cover-up. The day I told Mr. Nixon there was a cancer on his presidency was the day I met the real Nixon. I knew I had to break rank.
Mr. Cohen has likewise come to see Mr. Trump for his true nature. At the very end of his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, he sought permission to read a closing statement.
He thanked the members, and again accepted responsibility for his bad behavior. He then told the legislators, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.” This was the most troubling– actually, chilling– thing he said in his five hours before the committee.
Since Mr. Cohen’s warning came in his closing words, there was no opportunity for committee members to ask follow-up questions. So I double-checked with his lawyer, Lanny Davis, if I had understood Mr. Cohen’s testimony correctly. Mr. Davis responded, “He was referring to Trump’s authoritarian mind-set, and lack of respect for democracy and democratic institutions.”
Indeed, what is most similar about my and Mr. Cohen’s testimony is that we both challenged authoritarian presidents of the United States by revealing their lies and abuses of power. Mr. Trump is the first authoritarian president since Mr. Nixon, and neither he nor his supporters will play fair. Mr. Cohen will be dealing with these people the rest of his life.
In fact, all Americans are affected by the growing authoritarianism that made Mr. Trump president. These people who facilitated his rise will remain long after Mr. Trump is gone. We need to pay more attention.