Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, testified before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27. In his hearing, Cohen accused Trump of an expansive pattern of lies and criminality, offering a portrayal of life within the president’s orbit in which advisers sacrifice integrity for proximity to power. The exposure of President Trump’s alleged deceptive actions raise concern about his potential obstruction of justice and labels him as an unpatriotic liar part of a criminal scheme.
“Prior to the hearing, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about the president’s plans to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow during his presidential campaign,” said Yi Hyun Kwon (11), AP US History student. “When I watched Cohen’s testimony, he mentioned that Trump had never instructed him to lie, but he did make it implicitly clear as he himself lied several times to the public about his business interests in Russia. Given that constructing Trump Tower Moscow would yield massive profits for Trump’s family, the president would definitely have wanted to conceal his business plans.”
However, Trump’s alleged ties to the Russian government were not limited to business. It involved Hillary Clinton’s email controversy as well. According to the New York Times, a Russian official told Trump’s foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos about Clinton’s emails in the spring of 2016. The official further revealed that the Russian government would soon coordinate with WikiLeaks to disseminate information about the emails. Moreover, the New York Times reported Cohen’s claim in his congressional testimony that he was present when Trump’s adviser Roger Stone informed the president about WikiLeaks’s plan to spread the emails to damage Clinton’s campaign.
“I think many people want to see the case for Donald Trump’s impeachment made,” said Angela Lee (11), AP World History student. “I have hoped that Michael Cohen’s testimony would affect the political dynamics of a series of scandals that have already polarized America, leading to an impeachment battle this year. Unfortunately, it seems like the Republican Party is largely unmoved. In fact, many Republicans are assailing Mr. Cohen as a liar and criticizing the hearing as an embarrassment for the country organized by Democrats searching for a pretext to remove Trump from office.”
Indeed, as the New York Times reports, former attorney’s hearing seemed to be as much as a political theatre as searching for the truth, with Democrats arguing that Republicans are undermining their integrity to defend a corrupt president, while Republicans are contending that Democrats are simply attempting to pursue their political interests. The two parties have set forth conflicting depictions of the man who once served Trump as a duplicitous, embittered former employee or a liar trying to redeem himself by coming clean.
“I suspect what Cohen said is true,” said Fredric Schneider, Dean of Students. “Since he’s already going to jail and there is no way he will receive a pardon from Trump, Cohen’s words do have credibility in them. However, although uncovering the truth is a positive step, at this stage, Americans have become numb to Trump’s lies. We have become so used to his fraudulent behavior, which is horrible.”
The exposure of the supposed dark underside of Trump’s business and politics in the voice of one of his former associates revealed as much about the state of the country as it did about the traits and deeds of the president. Through the five hour televised testimony, Michael Cohen described his years working for Mr. Trump as a trip into a world of deceit in which the former attorney claims to have ignored his conscience to get closer to people of power. However, as of now, many Americans have become accustomed to Trump’s lies. They are not hugely taken aback by Cohen’s claims. The question, then, remains: will America see any meaningful correction until its citizens are willing to deal with the causes of such pervasive dysfunction?