As former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and his congressional interviewers went back and forth all day on Wednesday during his hearing, often behaving more like professional wrestlers than professional adults, one Republican representative stood out among all the others: Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.
“The Michigan Republican did something on Wednesday that almost none of his GOP colleagues seemed willing to even try: Ask Cohen questions about his relationship with Trump that might actually shed some new light on not only their relationship but on the President of the United States,” writes CNN’s Chris Cillizza. “Amash got Cohen to explain his contention that Trump might never have asked associates to directly lie but that the President spoke in a 'code' that made his intentions clear.”
“And Amash asked Cohen one of my favorite questions of the entire hearing (which Cohen did not answer) 'What's the truth that [Trump] fears most?'” Cillizza notes.
Cillizza is right to take notice of this particular query.
In the wake of the hearings, a few commentators, some left-leaning, have given the always independentAmash credit for engaging with Cohen in a way that rose above partisan bickering. But what some ignore, or at least many haven’t focused on significantly, is that Amash asked a question that should make everyone in both parties question Cohen’s credibility more than virtually anything else discussed on Wednesday.
“What is the truth that you know President Trump fears the most?” Amash asked.
Cohen couldn’t answer it. Cohen took some time to think about it, and still couldn’t answer. “Tough question,” is about all we got out of him.
But is it so tough?
Think of the situation Cohen finds himself in. Facing an upcoming prison sentence, he turned his back on his former employer and confidant to come to Capitol Hill and let the world know what a dastardly scoundrel President Trump is.
We knew Cohen was a liar and perjurer before he even showed up on Wednesday. We even knew about most of what he delved into throughout the day, including the Stormy Daniels controversy and all the rest. Cohen brought little new to the table during his entire hearing.
Cohen reminded the committee time and again that he spent 10 years with Trump, where he learned, according to his testimony, that Trump is as low as they come. “He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen said with conviction.
These are all terrible things that could have nasty repercussions for those guilty of such crimes or character flaws. Those guilty of any of them should be afraid.
Might a racist fear having reported audio leaked proving his racism? Might a conman fear being caught by the authorities? Might a cheater worry about being found out by the people he’s scamming, law enforcement, or depending on what kind of cheating Cohen meant, Melania Trump?
Might Trump fear going to jail like Cohen? This would seem to be the most reasonable and obvious fear the president might have (and that Cohen, who knew Trump so well for so long, could have told Amash the president has) if everything Cohen is saying is true.
But is it?
Many criticized Republican after Republican who viciously mocked Cohen’s credibility, but what were members of Congress to think of the testimony of a perjurer? Cohen even lied again on Wednesday about whether or not he had ever wanted a job at the White House.
Even when he claims he’s telling the truth about what he used to lie about, he tells another lie.
Despite the brutal lashing from his GOP critics, the one question that probably undermined Michael Cohen’s credibility on Wednesday more than any other was his inability to tell Justin Amash what Trump fears most. If everything he says is true, the president should have plenty to fear.
The Republican with the softest touch Wednesday might have landed the heaviest blow.