People hardly enjoy sinking alone; more often than not, they prefer to take someone down with them. U.S gangster Henry Hill opted to provide damning evidence against the Lucchese crime family when he was rounded up by the FBI in the 1980s, rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine agreed to enter a witness protection programme in exchange for reduction in jail time, and now Michael Cohen has decided to spill all the tea and coffee on U.S President Donald Trump.
The President's former personal lawyer has painted a cruel and unseemly picture, shocking even with the nation's senses dulled by years of Trump-induced controversy. In a theatrical day of congressional testimony on Wednesday February 27, Cohen -- who is about to go to prison -- turned on President No. 45 with the world watching. He made a case that after spending a decade inside Trump's world, he knew the President better than anyone -- seeking to provide context for the flurry of investigations and claims of crimes and wrongdoing surrounding the President.
He sketched a stunning portrait of Trump's organisation and conduct in what turned into an extraordinary and unprecedented daylong indictment of the character of a sitting President. It was either the betrayal of a proven liar who is making up tales to save himself or the courageous act of an unlikely hero rising above his dirty past to provide a national service, depending on which side of the committee room lawmakers sat on.
According to Cohen, Trump's empire was awash in activity that needed a fixer. Cohen told the House Oversight Committee that he now bitterly regrets he blindly took that role, which will ultimately deprive him of his freedom.
"My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything," Cohen said.
In Trump's world, the boss knew everything that went on, according to Cohen. Henchmen like Cohen came to know by osmosis what the big man wanted. His currency was threats. And bad tabloid news stories were bought up -- even if they weren't true -- to stop them from sullying Trump's personal image.
"Everybody's job at the Trump Organisation is to protect Mr. Trump," he added.
Wednesday's hearing, which played out amid fiercely partisan scenes, contained revelations that hinted at future and deeper legal exposure for the President. Most notably, Cohen produced a personal check for $35,000 that Trump signed while in office that appears to show that the President reimbursed him for hush payments he made to women who claimed affairs with the then-GOP nominee.
Cohen has already admitted paying off the women in an infringement of campaign finance law. If it is proved that Trump -- who has denied having affairs with the women -- knew he was breaking the law, the President could be in serious trouble, even after he leaves office.
Cohen, a former confidant-turned-accuser, also revealed that prosecutors in New York were probing Trump's organisation for alleged illegality in a previously unpublicised case, underscoring the potential that the biggest threat to the President may come not from special counsel Robert Mueller but from the hard-charging US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
"I think it's ominous news for the President," said former southern district prosecutor Elie Honig.
Cohen also claimed that he had overheard a call in which Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone told the then-GOP nominee in 2016 that WikiLeaks was due to dump a new trove of emails that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton. He said Trump knew in advance about a 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and his campaign team designed to deliver "dirt" on Clinton.
Since Trump previously told Mueller in sworn written answers that neither of those statements were true, he could be in legal and political jeopardy if Cohen or prosecutors can provide corroboration of Cohen's claims.
Call him a snitch if you may, but Cohen's testimony is a potential watershed in a series of events that test the credibility (and even the legality) of the Trump administration. He may be sounding like a canary, but if his mouthing off would ultimately lead to the truth and redemption of a government that has come under increased scrutiny, then we are here for it.
Folio.ng All Rights Reserved.