On Wednesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) slammed House Democrats for inviting President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to testify. Cohen has confessed to lying to Congress, making him a particularly unreliable witness. Yet Jordan attacked Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, saying Cohen is the Democrats’ “patsy” to impeach Trump.
“Mr. Chairman, here we go. Here we go. Your first big hearing, your first announced witness: Michael Cohen. I want everyone in this room to think about this. The first announced witness for the 116th Congress is a guy who is going to prison in two months for lying to Congress,” Jordan, the Republican ranking member on the committee, said in his opening statement. While the House Oversight Committee has had many hearings already, this is the first hearing to announce a star witness in its title.
“Mr. Chairman, your chairmanship will always be identified with this hearing. And we all need to understand what this is. This is the Michael Cohen hearing presented by Lanny Davis. That’s right,” Jordan continued. “Lanny Davis choreographed the whole darn thing. The Clintons’ best friend, loyalist, operative, Lanny Davis put this all together. You know how we know? He told our staff.”
Indeed, Davis “had to talk Michael Cohen into coming and, most importantly, he had to persuade the chairman to have” the hearing, the Republican added, summarizing recent news.
“This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has appeared again so quickly in front of Congress,” Jordan remarked. “Certainly, it’s the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing. And there is a reason this is the first because no other committee would do it.”
Yet the situation is even more perverse. Jordan noted that there are many lawyers on the House Oversight Committee, but in inviting Cohen to testify about Trump, “this committee is actually encouraging a witness to violate attorney-client privilege. Mr. Chairman, when we legitimize dishonesty we delegitimize this institution. We’re supposed to pursue the truth. But you have stacked the deck against the truth.”
Cummings has also declared certain questions off-limits, but at the beginning of the hearing, he reversed the original ruling that questions about Russia would be off the table. “The only subjects we can talk about are ones you think are going to be harmful to the president of the United States,” Jordan remarked.
The Republican quoted a U.S. attorney in slamming Cohen, who “enjoyed a privileged life” but whose “desire for ever greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct.”
Jordan noted that “the Democrats don’t care. They don’t care.”
Turning to Cohen, he added, “They just want to use you, Mr. Cohen. You’re their patsy today. They got to find somebody, somewhere, to say something, so they can try to remove the president from office. Because Tom Steyer told them to.”
Jordan noted that liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who has launched an extensive campaign to impeach Trump, organized town halls in the congressional districts that elected Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Chairman Cummings. (Read more on Steyer’s response to the hearing here: Tom Steyer Weaponizes Cohen Testimony for Trump Impeachment)
“The best they can find, the best they can find to start this process, Michael Cohen: fraudster, a cheat, convicted felon, and, in two months, a federal inmate. Actually, they didn’t find him. Lanny Davis found him.”
Indeed, Cohen admitted in his testimony Wednesday that he strategized with Cummings and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) before the hearing.
Jordan concluded his opening remarks by ironically praising Democrats for sticking to the “playbook.”
“Remember, remember how all this started: The Clinton campaign hired Perkins Coie law firm, who hired Glenn Simpson, who hired a foreigner, Christopher Steele, who put together the fake dossier that the FBI used to go get a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign,” he said. “But when that whole scheme failed and the American people said, we’re going to make Donald Trump president, they said, we’ve got to do something else.”
“So now Clinton loyalist, Clinton operative Lanny Davis has persuaded the chairman of the Oversight Committee to give a convicted felon a forum to tell stories and lie about the president of the United States,” Jordan concluded. “So they can all start their impeachment process. Mr. Chairman, we are better than this. We are better than this. I yield back.”
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.