University Professor Addresses the Cohen Hearings

Michael Cohen testified on Wednesday, Feb. 27, before the House Oversight Committee and, according to an article by CNN, there were plenty of takeaways. Cohen accused President Donald Trump of directing him to pay hush money to several women who alleged they had affairs with Trump. He also implicated Trump in the Russian election meddling.

“As a teacher and attorney, I feel very embarrassed by this sequence of events,” said Victor Rodriguez, director of the Legal Studies program.

Rodriguez had his own takeaways from the hearing. He said that it would be reasonable to question whether Cohen was lying, but just as reasonable to assume that “he is probably more interested in seeking redemption, particularly on behalf of his family, and therefore not inclined to continue to lie.”

“In any event, the most important takeaway is that the American people should be asking themselves what does the fact that Donald Trump hired and retained Michael Cohen as his lawyer for almost 10 years, say about Donald Trump and the Trump Organization,” said Rodriguez.

According to Rodriguez, the odds of legal repercussions are dependent upon the legal investigations taking place outside of Congress and within the court system.

“Unless the legal investigations currently underway produce additional indictments or convictions, these hearings will probably not have much impact on the future of the Trump presidency,” said Rodriguez

In terms of what could be next, Rodriguez said that Congress could ask the individuals named by Cohen to testify as well, but that it’s hard to know with multiple proceedings going on simultaneously. Separate investigations within the House Oversight Committee, Senate Intelligence Committee, and House Intelligence Committee all have their own hearings operating on different schedules. According to CNN, Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would likely bring in Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, and Trump Jr. to testify before the committee as well.

Despite the unclear future, this hearing offered dim prospects for the future of American democracy. Rodriguez believes Congress should be pulling together to “manage this crisis with a bipartisan approach,” however he believes this hearing did not show any signs of a bipartisan approach.

“Unfortunately, the bottom line is that no one can be proud of this situation whether Republican or Democrat,” said Rodriguez. “The reputation of the office of the President is once more being devalued.”