Jim Jordan, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said Wednesday that the best witness Democrats could find to testify about President Donald Trump is his former attorney Michael Cohen – a “fraudster, cheat, convicted felon, and in two months a federal inmate.”
“Your first big hearing, your first announced witness – Michael Cohen. I want everyone in this room to think about this. The first witness for the 116th Congress is a guy who is going to prison in two months for lying to Congress. Mr. Chairman, your chairmanship will always be identified with this hearing, and we all need to understand what this is – this is the Michael Cohen hearing presented by Lanny Davis,” he said.
“That’s right, Lanny Davis choreographed the whole darn thing – the Clinton’s best friend, loyalist, operative. Lanny Davis put this all together. You know how we know? He told our staff. He told the committee staff. He said the hearing was his idea. He selected this committee. He had to talk Michael Cohen into coming, and most importantly, he had to persuade the chairman to actually have it,” Jordan said, referring to Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
“He told us it took two months to get that job done, but here we are. He talked him into it. This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has appeared again so quickly in front of Congress. Certainly, it’s the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing, and there’s a reason this is a first, because no other committee would do it,” the congressman said.
Jordan also noted the irony that despite the number of lawyers on the committee, the committee actually encouraged Cohen to break attorney-client privilege.
“Think about this: With Mr. Cohen here, this committee – we got lots of lawyers on this committee – this committee is actually encouraging a witness to violate attorney-client privilege,” he said.
Jordan also noted that despite Chairman Cummings’ initial instructions that the committee members would not be allowed to ask questions about the Russia probe during the hearing, Cummings announced in his opening statement that those questions were now on the table since Cohen mentioned Russia in his prepared opening statement.
“Mr. Chairman, when we legitimize dishonesty, we delegitimize this institution. We’re supposed to pursue the truth, but you have stacked the deck against the truth. We’re only allowed to ask certain questions, even with that amendment you just told us about where Russia’s now on the table,” Jordan said.
“You initially told us we can’t ask questions about the special counsel, can’t ask questions about the Southern District of New York, can’t ask questions about Russia. Nope. Nope. Only subjects we can talk about are ones you think are going to be harmful to the president of the United States, and the answers to those questions are gonna come from a guy who can’t be trusted,” he added.
“Here’s what the U.S. attorney said about Mr. Cohen: ‘While Mr. Cohen enjoyed a privileged life, his desire for ever greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct. Mr. Cohen committed four, four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed and repeatedly, repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,’ but the Democrats don’t care,” Jordan said.
“They don’t care. They just want to use you, Mr. Cohen. You’re their patsy today. They gotta find somebody, somewhere to say something so they can try to remove the president from office, cause Tom Steyer told him too,” the congressman said.
Jordan said Steyer – a liberal billionaire and activist – organized a town hall last week in Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) district in Manhattan and in Cummings’ district in Baltimore two days ago.
“The best they can find, the best they can find to start this process – Michael Cohen, fraudster, cheat, convicted felon, and in two months a federal inmate. No actually, they didn’t find him. Lanny Davis found him. I’ll say one thing about the Democrats, they stick to the playbook,” Jordan said.