Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Here’s a key, too little noted, part of the testimony today. Cohen has actually burnished his credibility quite a bit by defending Trump on questions on which there is likely no evidence that could impeach him if he did otherwise. For instance, he said that he simply didn’t believe it was in character for Trump to ever hit his wife. But it’s more than about his credibility. Cohen has also knocked down a lot of questions and accusations that have loomed around Trump.

This is one of the weirder parts of this hearing. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) has now twice demanded to know the whereabouts of boxes of documents that were seized by the FBI in the Cohen raids and later returned to him. He then demanded that they be seized by law enforcement.

Here’s one snippet of the video.

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A quick reaction to the first couple hours of testimony. I’d say that in general, there haven’t been big revelations beyond those included in the prepared remarks. The Democrats have gotten some more granular detail on key points like the Trump Moscow project and the Wikileaks drops. The Republicans in general have not done terribly well. They’ve triggered some defensiveness on Cohen’s part a few times with respect to his crimes.

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On catch and kill, Cohen: “These catch and kill scenarios existed between David Pecker and Mr. Trump long before I started working for him in 2007.”

As we get ready for the questioning today I wanted to flag some early posts from early 2017 as I was looking into Michael Cohen’s background, his business history, ties to Russian emigres and Russian organized crime and his relationship with Trump himself. They hold up pretty well, though we of course know much more now. It’s All So Confusing (The Michael Cohen File). What Happened to the Michael Cohen Ukraine Dossier? “‘Says Who?’ – Piecing Together the Michael Story.” “What the CIA and FBI Knew About Trump Before 2016.”

Finally, from earlier this morning, my look at what was significant in Cohen’s prepared testimony this morning.

There was a key point in Chairman Cummings opening statement that is worth noting. He said that he’d agreed with the DOJ and the House Intelligence committee that his committee would not ask questions about Russia. He then noted that Cohen had nonetheless brought up Russia in his opening statement and that members of the committee they would be able to ask about those points – Stone and Wikileaks, the Trump Tower Moscow project and the Trump Tower meeting.

Cummings then made a key point, that those issues “do not raise concerns with the Department of Justice” but that there were other Russia topics that were still subjects of on-going investigation and thus remain off limits.

Video after the jump …

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Out of the gate, House Republicans demand that the Cohen hearing be postponed because he didn’t give them his testimony long enough in advance.

This was followed by claims that CNN had gotten the testimony first, seemingly an homage to the Roger Stone arrest conspiracy theory.

10:18 AM: Here’s my run-down of Cohen’s prepared testimony.

In the first of what will certainly be many attacks today, Rudy Giuliani is out with a round of attacks on Michael Cohen. A central one is that Cohen was “connected to Russian organized crime” and that – relatedly – he got his money from his Ukrainian immigrant father-in-law Fima Shusterman. You’ve seen me writing for months about Trump’s odd gambit and history with Shusterman. I’ve been writing for two years about Cohen’s ties to Russian/Ukrainian organized crime. Rudy is not making this up. But in the nature of things, with the current questions before the public, accusing Trump’s former fixer of being tied to Russian organized crime seems like a perilous line of attack.