Cohen plays the role of Judas before House committee

Cohen plays the role of Judas before House committee
© Stefani Reynolds

As a lawyer and as an American, I am disgusted with the appearance of Michael Cohen as a witness against the president, regarding legal representation he gave primarily to Donald J. Trump the businessman.

During Cohen’s first appearance before Congress, before he was charged with numerous felonies that were personal to him, he lied to Congress. Now as a convicted felon, he returned to the same body to which he lied, in an effort to settle personal scores and to seek public sympathy for his crimes.

Michael Cohen is no victim.

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By his own admission, Cohen was Trump the businessman’s personal attorney for more than a decade. He was paid handsomely for his advice and services. By Cohen’s own admission, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE never told him to lie. By Cohen’s own admission, Trump never told him to commit a crime. In fact, as an attorney, Cohen had a duty not to commit crimes at the direction of a client or on a client’s behalf. Never once did Cohen testify that he advised his client that any acts “suggested” by his client could expose him to possible criminal exposure. 

The fact that a client asks an attorney to do something that could be seen as illegal imposes an obligation on the attorney to so advise the client and not to do anything to expose his client or himself to criminal liability.

Thus, all of Cohen’s crimes are personal to him. Last August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes — five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of willingly causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to perjury, having lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

Cohen is a disbarred lawyer. When he was practicing — by his own admission of his criminal acts — he was a terrible lawyer; he violated attorney/client privilege, and he recorded attorney/client conversations, without the prior knowledge of the client and without the client’s permission. He kept client records segregated, not to shield a client, but to use against his client if he felt the need.

According to Cohen, Stormy Daniels within days of a national election allegedly was attempting to extort money from candidate Trump, threatening to take her allegations public unless she was paid in excess of $100,000. Yet, attorney Cohen never advised his client, Trump, that such a payment could be seen as violative of federal campaign-finance laws. Instead, Cohen orchestrated the payment as demanded, using his own funds. 

In this and in other instances, Trump relied on his attorney’s advice. No client should be held liable for the criminal acts of his or her attorney. (What remains puzzling to me, if all of this is true, is that the person who allegedly extorted money from a presidential candidate, perhaps in an effort to influence a national election, was never charged with numerous crimes.)

Why did Cohen not advise his client to contact the FBI?

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The special counsel's investigation was created for the specific purpose of determining whether or not there was a crime with regard to the Russian government interfering with the 2016 presidential election. There was not one scintilla of evidence produced by Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, with Cohen as its star witness, that there was any such collusion or conspiracy to violate any criminal statute by Donald Trump.

The House Oversight Committee’s hearing had nothing to do with government oversight because Cohen’s testimony was about Trump the businessman — not Trump the President of the United States. Cohen offered no credible evidence of any “high crimes and misdemeanors” committed by the president as president.

In 2016, Cohen was the arch-enemy of Democrats, and in 2018 he is their savior. Look no further than to whom he associates with today, such as his personal, reportedly unpaid attorney, Lanny Davis. Democrats are using Cohen and will kick him to the curb when they are done with him, just as they did with witnesses who came forward in an attempt to scuttle last year’s confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report Kavanaugh remains guilty until proven innocent, according to Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh MORE. Their actions did not work then, and they will not work now.

By his own admission, Michael Cohen is seeking and would entertain book, TV and movie deals. This admission, coupled with his crimes, his demeanor and arrogance before the House committee, shows little or no remorse and a continuing effort to use his past relationship with Donald Trump to feather his nest — at Trump’s expense.

Mr. Cohen does not seek redemption from Congress or the public. He simply seeks to blame others for his personal and professional failings.

Bradley Blakeman was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. A principal of the 1600 Group, a strategic communications firm, he is an adjunct professor of public policy and international affairs at Georgetown University and a contributor to Fox News and Fox Business.