News & Politics

Democrats Come Out Swinging at Cohen, Republicans in Quest to Take Down Trump

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, arrives to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The House Oversight Committee hearing starring former Trump fixer Michael Cohen quickly got off to a circus-like start on Wednesday morning, which should surprise no one. Right out of the box, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee demanded a postponement because they said pertinent documents were withheld from them until this morning. Democrats, of course, now hold a majority on the committee, so on a voice vote, the Republican motion to postpone the hearing was denied, 24-17.

Now that Democrats are in charge of all the House committees, there has been a radical shift in the tone at hearings. You may recall that when Republicans were in charge, they were generally polite to witnesses and questioned them calmly. Those days are over. Now that Democrats a have the gavel, the rhetoric has been ramped up and they’ve made it clear that they intend to take the president down by any means necessary.

Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) came out swinging at both Republicans and Michael Cohen, bellowing during his opening statement, “The days of this committee protecting this president at all costs are over!” His first words to Michael Cohen included a threat to turn him over to the Department of Justice if he lies. (Andy McCabe was not available for comment.)

Cummings is making it abundantly clear that he’s going to rule with an iron fist when it comes to Republicans — so say goodbye to any semblance of collegiality. Cummings spoke for seven minutes during his opening statement and then recognized Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who gave a four-minute statement. After Jordan yielded, he remembered that he wanted to introduce a motion. Cummings denied the request and refused to allow Jordan to continue. He is within his rights as chairman to do so, but it’s a sharp departure from previous hearings, where Republican chairmen were generally much more accommodating to the minority — regularly letting members speak beyond their allotted time and allowing out-of-order requests. But, of course, this is nothing new; Republicans and Democrats don’t play by the same rules.

There’s a new sheriff in town now by the name of Elijah Cummings and he’s made it clear that he intends to lord it over Republicans in his quest to take down Trump.