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Opinion

Editorial: Michael Cohen may not be ‘star witness’ material, but his testimony rings true

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen finishes a day of testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 27.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

A serial liar and tax cheat who will be going to prison for deceiving Congress, Michael Cohen isn’t “star witness” material. And when he sat before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday, the panel’s Republicans — who were monomaniacal about defending President Trump — pointed out again and again how sketchy Cohen’s character and how dubious his credibility are.

Yet despite his obvious character issues, Cohen’s description of Trump, whose legal problems he “fixed” for a decade, had the ring of truth: a man eager to win at all costs, who puts his self-interest ahead of the public interest, and who feels the rules don’t apply to him.

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Seriously, how hard is it to imagine that Trump was aware of — and intimately involved in — hush-money payments to women he’d slept with? Do you have to reevaluate his character to believe that he remained deeply interested in a proposed Russian skyscraper that could earn him hundreds of millions of dollars even as he was running for president? Or that he would impel his underlings to lie about such things to protect his candidacy?

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The hearing didn’t prove anything or bring much to light that the public hadn’t already heard, generating at best a few new leads for investigators. But what it surely did is remind us of a couple of depressing truths: that lawmakers’ virulent partisanship makes it harder for Congress to find the facts, and that a president who supposedly sought to drain the swamp has instead caused us all to be dragged through the mud by ugly people accusing each other of ugly things.

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