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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2019

FAQ NEWS
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I’ve always appreciated the Frequently Asked Questions format. There are few techniques that offer the kind of superficial understanding I prefer like FAQs. So here is my Michael Cohen FAQ finder:

Whom do you believe: Michael Cohen, or Donald Trump and the Republican members of Congress who spoke out for the president at that televised hearing?

None of them. When Cohen claims that he’s seeking “redemption” for his decade of lying for Trump, he’s really saying that he’s still seeking still more sentence reduction by cooperating with investigators and spilling his guts wherever it works to his advantage.
He’s miraculously transformed from the most offensive defender of his client (Trump) to a virtuous protector of our nation. As for the GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee who nearly foamed at the mouth as they made those very points, they were singularly motivated by their efforts to curry favor with The Donald. In other words, they know who controls their party, and they know that they must kiss the ring of their Don.
Still, some of them, in the midst of their tirades, did manage to ask good questions; like Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C.: “Are you really sorry for what you did, or you just got caught?” The answer to that one seems to be that Cohen is “really sorry” he “got caught.” He’s trying to make the most of it by biting the hand that fed him, then try to survive prison and -- if he maintains his sanity after looking over his shoulders for some Trump supporter paid to do him harm -- work any sort of deal after he’s served his sentence. Maybe a book will be in the cards, perhaps even a movie. To demonstrate that he has no shame whatsoever, Cohen might even consider becoming a pundit. It doesn’t get lower than that.


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Q. Did the president’s failure while he tried to work a deal with North Korea in Vietnam have anything to do with Kim Jong Un’s perception of him as a weakened leader?

Absobloominlutely! You can bet that Kim and his handlers watched every second of the “Michael Cohen Show.” It would not be hard for them to conclude that Trump is desperate. He’s been having a rough go of it lately. His effort to bully Congress into giving him billions of dollars for the border wall caused misery for the million-plus federal employees and contractors who were caught up in the historic government shutdown. He didn’t get his way, and his destructive antics blew up in his face.
So, Kim and his gang couldn’t help but be emboldened to hang tough. Putting it another way, for all their smiles, North Korea’s leaders were intent on rubbing the American leader’s nose in it. They insisted on quids far larger than the U.S. quos. Now the Trumpster has a lot more face-saving to do. He’s running out of face.

Q. Back to the Cohen spectacle: Was it simply “political theater”?

Of course. Congressional hearings fit into two categories. Most of them are totally boring. A handful have high entertainment value -- a precious few of those actually are circuses that accomplish something. Think Watergate. Was Michael Cohen’s appearance on that level? Good grief, no.
As someone who has snoozed through hundreds, with only a few like the dramatic Clarence Thomas hearings, I can tell you Michael Cohen’s melodrama didn’t come close. And before you say that Clarence Thomas survived his “high-tech lynching” (low-tech, by today’s standards), at least the proceedings pushed sexual harassment onto America’s consciousness.

Q. Well then, what will Michael Cohen’s hearing mean to the Trump presidency?

It’s just another nail. Unless Cohen was right when he told committee members that after all his years of experience with Donald Trump, he believes “there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Then the most Frequently Asked Question might be, why bother with charade hearings? And why bother with democracy?

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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