During an extended soliloquy at his Wednesday congressional hearing, Michael Cohen blamed both President Trump and himself for helping draw modern U.S. politics into a circus of name-calling, lies and incivility.
Asked by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) why he decided to turn against his former boss, Cohen told the House Oversight Committee that one motivator was “watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another.”
Cohen pointed to a sign that committee Republicans put up with his photograph and the words “liar, liar pants on fire” as an example of the “really unbecoming” behavior Congress now routinely engaged in.
“It’s that sort of behavior that I’m responsible for,” Cohen said. “I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you’re doing now for ten years.”
Michael Cohen expresses his concerns about Trump as President pic.twitter.com/p0LsQFintN
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) February 27, 2019
Asked to expound on his concerns about Trumpworld’s threats to him and his family’s safety, Cohen said his personal experience with the President made him well aware of what Trump is capable of doing.
“When Mr. Trump turned around early in the campaign and said I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, I want to be very clear,” Cohen said. “He’s not joking. He’s telling you the truth. You don’t know him. I do. I’ve sat next to this man for ten years, and I watched his back. I’m the one who started the campaign, and I’m the one who continued in 2015 to promote him.”
“When he goes on Twitter and he starts bringing in my in-laws, my parents, my wife, what does he think is going to happen?” Cohen continued. “He’s causing — he’s sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants. This is his country. He’s becoming an autocrat and hopefully something bad will happen to me or my children or my wife so that I will not be here and testify. That’s what his hope was, was to intimidate me, and again, I thanked everybody who joined and said that this is just not right.”
Cooper then asked if Cohen had ever seen Trump “personally threaten people with physical harm.”
“No, he would use others,” Cohen replied.
“He would hire other people to do that?” Cooper prodded.
“I’m not so that he had to hire them,” Cohen said. “They were already working there. Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm, and that’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country, and it’s exactly what’s happening here in government.”