Well, Wednesday was the big day that the Democrats had former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to the Hill to “destroy” Trump. But, after he finally shut his mouth, it seemed that he was a better witness for the Republicans and Trump than he was the Democrats.
Yes, Cohen said a bunch of things that should embarrass President Trump. But not a thing he said should lead to any trouble either politically or legally for Trump. And, worse for the Democrats, many of the things he said actually tended to destroy the Democrat claims against the president, as opposed to substantiating them.
Before we get to some of the things Cohen said that totally ruined the Democrats’ day, let’s also point out that he said he had no evidence at all that the president “colluded” with Russia either before or after being elected to the White House.
The absolute main contention that the Democrats have been pushing for two years is that Donald Trump “colluded” with Russian operatives to change the outcome of the U.S. elections in 2016. So far, after wasting millions of dollars and “investigating” for two years, they have not even one shred of proof that this happened. And Cohen actually drove home the Democrats’ lack of proof by admitting that he has no first had knowledge or proof that Trump colluded with anyone over anything.
“Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not, and I want to be clear. But I have my suspicions,” Cohen said on Wednesday, according to the Washington Times.
Cohen added, “As I stated in my earlier testimony, I wouldn’t use the word ‘colluding’. Was there something odd about the back-and-forth praise with President Putin? Yes. But I’m not really sure I can answer that question in terms of collusion.”
In other words, he’s got nothing but self-serving speculation. No proof and no first-hand experience of the accusation.
But, as the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh notes, there are several other huge bombs for the Democrats in Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday.
As to that “collusion” charge, Cohen said, “Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.”
But, as Walsh points out, this actually exonerates Trump of collusion:
This story is meant to implicate Trump, but it’s actually the first of three instances when Cohen accidentally provides exonerating information. Cohen admits that Trump “never expected to win the election.” He repeats this assertion multiple times throughout his opening testimony. This is an extremely important detail, and it works in the President’s favor.
If Trump did not expect to win and was not planning to win, then he cannot be accused of trying to leverage the presidency for financial gain. Hillary Clinton used the office of the Secretary of State to enrich herself through the Clinton Foundation. Trump could not have had a similar plan in mind if he never even planned to be president at all. Importantly, Trump’s lack of intention to win the election could also mitigate his liability under campaign finance laws. If his hush payments to Daniels did occur, it would be harder to argue that they constitute a violation of campaign finance laws if, per Cohen, Trump wasn’t trying to win the election in the first place.
A second time that Cohen destroyed the Democrat narrative is when he said: “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress.”
Well, there goes that claim out the window.
Finally, Cohen also said that he paid money to hush someone. But he went on to say that this was standard operating procedure for Trump and that he has been paying people off to shut them up about stuff for years. This matters because it proves Trump didn’t violate campaign finance laws because the payment could only be breaking the law if it was unique to the campaign. If Trump has been doing this fr years, it means he would have done it whether he was running for president or not. The precedents show that it is not unique to the campaign.
In all, any serious look at this farce of a hearing would realize that the Democrats expected a bomb and got a dud when Cohen testified on Wednesday. All their main points were thoroughly undermined by his testimony.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.