Freedom Caucus Leaders Denounce Cohen Testimony as a ‘Rigged Deal’

‘If the Democrats are going to give a felon a platform, they should be honest about their motivations…’

Michael Cohen / IMAGE: CNN via Youtube

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Michael Cohen, the former attorney of President Donald Trump, took to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to claim that Trump committed crimes while in office and often misled about his financial worth.

But prior to Cohen’s testimony, Freedom Caucus Republicans on the House Oversight Committee penned an op-ed piece in USA Today calling it a “rigged deal.”

Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., co-authored the piece arguing that the testimony of Cohen—who already has been convicted for lying before Congress—was nothing more than political theater, engineered by Democrats in their ongoing bid to bring impeachment charges against the president for political reasons.

“The Oversight Committee shouldn’t feed Cohen’s insatiable desire for celebrity while playing patsy for political aims of the far left,” wrote the congressmen. “If the Democrats are going to give a felon a platform, they should be honest about their motivations.”

They said even Cohen’s own legal counsel, former Bill Clinton advocate Lanny Davis, acknowledged in a recent podcast that there was potential for Democrats to overplay their hand.

“That would turn Cohen’s testimony into a partisan hit job designed to help their party,” Jordan and Meadows said .

The two said they and other committee Republicans planned to use their time at the hearing to focus on grilling Cohen about his own “shady activities”—including the crimes he has plead guilty to and others that he has previously refused to disclose.

“We will call out the Democrats’ charade for what it is—a partisan circus meant to destroy President Trump,” said the op-ed.

Cohen faces a three-year prison sentence for the crimes he admitted to. In addition to lying to Congress, those include tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

While most of the charges are unrelated to his association with Trump, the campaign violations stem from the $280,000 total in hush-money payments Cohen indirectly provided to two alleged Trump paramours: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy bunny Karen McDougal.

Both women were said to have conducted affairs with Trump around 2006, a decade before his run, but sought to shake down the real-estate mogul after he announced his candidacy for president.

Cohen has said Trump directed the payments.

However, legal debate remains over whether they would constitute a campaign expense or a personal expense, with precedent favoring Trump.

Some, including Trump, have also noted a double-standard of selective prosecution.

President Barack Obama was found guilty in a Federal Election Commission audit of illegally accepting nearly $2 million in unreported campaign contributions.

Although required to pay a $375,000 fine, he faced no threat of criminal indictment and very little public scrutiny.

Cohen—who also is slated to testify before two other congressional committees and claims to be recovering from a shoulder surgery—was recently permitted to push back his sentence by two months.

It is unclear whether he is angling for additional sentencing leniency through his testimony or if he is simply trying to settle scores against his famous former client. However, Jordan and Meadows said they intended to find out.

Jim Jordan & Mark Meadows

Jim Jordan & Mark Meadows/IMAGE: Fox News via YouTube

“We’ll ask our Democratic colleagues if they really believe that providing a congressional forum for Cohen to avenge his grudge with the president will help promote America’s democratic values,” they said.

The two Republicans, who some consider to be Trump’s right-hand in the legislature, already have clashed on occasion with new House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

After recent overtures suggested that Cummings would invite Republican input and pursue transparency when calling witnesses to testify before the committee, his invitation to Cohen seemed a direct affront to that spirit of bipartisanship.

“Our committee is designed to ensure the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the federal government. It provides a check and balance on the role and power of Washington—and a voice to the people it serves,” Jordan and Meadows said.

“We should not give up the committee’s voice to an admitted liar like Michael Cohen,” they added. “It is disheartening that Chairman Elijah Cummings’ first major hearing will do just that.”