I’m constitutionally suspicious of the neophyte class of reformed Trump supporters who’ve suddenly “seen the light” and written best-selling books to prove it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t categorically reject their sincerity, I just sometimes wonder if it’s more about getting caught than it is about legitimate regret. Had Hitler been stopped at Munich would, say, Josef Goebbels have eventually written a tell-all confession about his misspent time with “der Fuhrer?”
I’ve come to see Michael Cohen as the exception that proves the rule. I think he’s on the level. For one thing, his wife and kids warned him repeatedly about Trump from the earliest days of his involvement with the bastard until his final betrayal by Trump. Throughout that time Cohen had a nagging feeling that they were right. His wife and kids acted as his conscience and I think he would have eventually come to listen to that conscience and regret his involvement with Donald Trump on his own, without his having to go to prison.
Whatever the truth, Mr. Cohen’s utterances have proved to be more profoundly prescient and correct than any other supposedly reformed Trumper’s. I believed him when he told Congress, way back in February of 2019, that he feared there would never be a peaceful transition of power, that Donald Trump would never leave the presidency peacefully if he lost the 2020 election.
He also told Congress that Trump and his eldest son and the CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, were involved in a criminal conspiracy. He said that Trump routinely and fraudulently inflated the costs of his assets when he needed loans and deflated them when it came time to pay taxes. And a newly-minted Attorney General of New York named Letitia James believed him too, and hung on every word.
So in a single day of contrition before Congress and the world, Michael Cohen predicted the January 6 insurrection and revealed that Donald Trump was a financial criminal. For years after, Republicans scoffed, said Cohen was the real criminal and laughed at him, while Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and MAGA loonies got ready, Letitia James took notes. In the end Mr. Cohen was bang-on correct, and his most recent vindication came on Wednesday when Ms. James announced her quarter of a billion dollar lawsuit against Trump, his nefarious progeny and the criminal empire known as the Trump Organization.
In her announcement AG James gave credit to Cohen for alerting her to Trump’s malfeasance, and thus began an investigation that will haunt Donald Trump for the remainder of his life. There will be no rest for the wicked Donald Trump from now until the day he dies.
However this ends, machinery has been set in motion that means that things cannot end well for Trump. Ms. James’ announcement included recommendations to other law enforcement entities for prosecution of Trump, backed up by mountains of irrefutable evidence. Whether Trump is mired forever in endless legal troubles or ultimately ends up wearing an orange jumpsuit, Donald Trump’s life is effectively over.
Imagine, if you will, someone you thought was your friend and mentor who in the end betrayed you, sent you to prison to take a fall for his crimes, had the power to set you free but refused and instead repudiated you and told vicious lies about you. Such was the experience of Michael Cohen with Donald Trump.
Well, Cohen rose from the ashes to see this day of triumph. I cannot fault him for a little well-earned schadenfreude. In the end, Cohen got his revenge and he will also have a much-deserved — and very long — last laugh. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.