I watched or listened to most of the Michael Cohen testimony before the House Oversight Committee today, and read his prepared statement.

Between what I heard, and our coverage of the Live hearings, I think I have a pretty good idea what today’s show was about.

I’m not going to try to catalog everything. Here are some of my takeaways.

First, Cohen is a sad, pathetic character. His drama and sanctimony didn’t help him. He’s someone who will be long forgotten when no longer politically useful. In three years when he gets out of prison, the rest of the country will have moved on from him.

Second, barring something unexpected from Robert Mueller, Russia collusion is dead as a means of taking down Trump. Cohen said he had no direct knowledge of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. He was suspicious, in the way a CNN or MSNBC commentator would speculate, but had no direct knowledge.

Third, there were some sideshows, such as whether Roger Stone learned and tipped Trump off to the upcoming Wikileaks email dump, which was widely publicized by Wikileaks and others far in advance and was hardly inside knowledge. Stone and Wikileaks deny it, and there is an objective answer probably known by the FBI, Mueller and the intelligence services. But there wasn’t any hint of criminality by Trump or the campaign in how Wikileaks got or released the documents.

Fourth, the Stormy Daniels payments also are less than meets the eye. It’s a dubious legal basis for asserting a campaign finance crime — the fact that Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance crime does not resolve the issue, he did it as part of a plea deal and had no incentive to fight it as a matter of law.

Fifth, much of the testimony also was directed at Trump’s character, but none of the accusations were new. Is there anything about Trump’s character as described by Cohen that was not litigated during the 2016 election? Orange Man Bad, we get it, but he won the election anyway.

Sixth, some of the testimony was helpful, such as puncturing the Buzzfeed story that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress. Cohen said there never was an explicit instruction, he assumed that was what Trump wanted.

So put it all together, and the show was a one-night stand, it started out sexy and ended up sordid.

But there was a there, there, and it was the roadmap House Democrats and prosecutors are likely to be following. That roadmap is to put Trump’s businesses under a microscope. Insurance, bank loans, real estate taxes, it’s all on the table for investigation and prosecution sooner or later.

Having found the man, Donald Trump, they will find the crime. That’s the big takeaway from the Michael Cohen show today.

 
 
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