There were a lot of explosive, emotional moments in today’s House Oversight Committee hearing. Everyone kind of was expecting the fireworks because Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and self-described “fixer,” was giving his first public testimony — under oath, no less — since taking a plea deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Republicans were extremely angry, from what I could tell, that Cohen implied Trump is a liar to hires liars who have no problem lying about his lying about crimes he has probably committed.
Despite the fact that Cohen will spend the next the three years of his life behind bars for lying to Congress and host of other financial crimes — including some connected to Trump’s campaign — Cohen repeatedly gave damning, personal details about Trump that ranged from whether or not the president is racist, to whether the president has been guilty of multiple financial fraud-related crimes throughout his business career.
It was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who raised that last bit with Cohen, and there have been many people commenting since that she gave Congress a path to Trump’s tax returns in the process. President Trump promised the American people during the 2016 presidential campaign season that he’d, eventually, release his taxes. But he keeps insisting that he’s under audit and therefore cannot produce his taxes, as of yet.
AOC seems to have blown a whole wide open in Trump’s plans to hide his taxes much longer, if you believe some folks in the commentator class.
“Ocasio-Cortez started by picking up on previous lines of questioning regarding whether he knew if Trump ever ‘provided inflated assets to an insurance company,’” writes Daniel Politi for Slate. “When Cohen answered yes she continued: ‘Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?’ Cohen answered yes again.” (Woke Sloth)
According to a lot of political experts, what AOC did was provide a congressional pathway for other committees to subpoena Trump’s tax returns. Getting Cohen to allege that Trump committed crimes that can only be best verified by looking at his tax returns, after giving examples of the kind of chicanery Trump would employ, some experts are suggesting, is the key. If you need the taxes to know if he’s a crook, then you’ve got to subpoena the taxes, essentially.
Constitutional scholar Lawrence Tribe heaped praise on AOC.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 28, 2019
Liberal political commentator Scott Dworkin believes having Cohen admit to Trump’s various fraudulent practices is a big reason Republicans fear her presence on congressional committees.
.@AOC just got Cohen to admit Trump was involved with some kind of insurance fraud, tax fraud regarding his golf courses and public funding, and got Cohen to agree that Congress should review Trump’s tax returns and financial records. This is why the GOP’s truly terrified of her.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 27, 2019
During Cohen’s testimony, she wasn’t as charged in her tone, but it could have been that she was striking a deliberate balance between herself and the often times shrill, angry yelling that the Republicans were doing. It’s been noted by many people, however, that the GOP seemed to be long on angry words to heave at Cohen, but short on defenses of Trump’s character, other than using a singular, anecdotal opinion of a woman who happened to be a person of color to refute Cohen’s personal accounts of Trump’s racist behavior.
Getting a glimpse at Trump’s taxes may or may not provide evidence of his corruption. However, whether what’s in them is good for Trump or bad, having the information can only be good for the American people. The president and his supporters may not enjoy this fact, but many people wonder where his true loyalties lie, and his own actions since taking office haven’t helped inspire much confidence that he’s loyal first to the country or our constitution.
There’s no telling if AOC’s questioning will get us a glimpse at Trump’s taxes one day down the line, but it’s a start.
There’s no denying that since she won her primary last year against a man who had held her seat for decades, the right has been somewhat obsessed with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. Any gaffe she makes, no matter how logically she explains it, or owns it and tries to correct her mistake, is turned into yet another 24-hour news cycle of “Can you believe what the crazy socialist broad said today?”
But as this Twitter user said, AOC has continually proven those attacks to be wildly off base time and again.
This is the third hearing in which I’ve seen AOC questioning a witness.
In all three, she has been prepared, direct, in command and highly effective.
In fact, she was among the most effective questioners today.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) February 27, 2019
Moments like today’s oversight hearing give you much better insight into why some voices on the right just can’t quit taunting her.