Michael Cohen announced today that he no longer wants to show up and testify to the House about the crimes he and Donald Trump committed. Cohen specifically cited threats that Trump and Rudy Giuliani have made against his family as the reason. Here’s the thing: Cohen will have to testify anyway, and he knows it. There’s a reason he’s doing it this way.
After Michael Cohen made his statement, it predictably took House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings and House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff all of a few minutes to issue a response which strongly hinted that Cohen will be subpoenaed to testify anyway. Cohen had to have known this was coming, and even if he didn’t, his highly competent attorney Lanny Davis surely would have explained it to him. So it’s not as if Cohen is getting out of testifying; it’s just that it’ll happen under different circumstances – and I suspect that’s the entire point.
By making his statement today, Cohen got the opportunity to formally accuse Trump and Giuliani of felony witness tampering. It means he gets to educate the public about how and why this is a crime, before Robert Mueller hits them with the corresponding felony charges. It also means that if Trump goes through with his threats to accuse Cohen’s father-in-law of certain unspecified crimes, the public will know to put this within the context of Trump’s attempts to intimidate Cohen out of testifying.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure that at this point, Michael Cohen would rather not testify. No one wants to put their family at risk after the illegitimate President of the United States begins making threats. But Cohen knows he’ll have to testify one way or the other. He’s simply decided he’s content to be hauled in by subpoena, and that he’s going to use it as an opportunity to expose yet another of Trump’s crimes in the process.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report