I only saw the highlights of Michael Cohen’s testimony yesterday. Still, what I saw on the evening news was enough to convince me that while Cohen may be a liar, a bully, and a thief, he honed his shady tactics while working for the master. Cohen says Donald Trump, his boss for more than a decade, is a racist, a con man, and a cheat. The more we learn, the more accurate those characterizations seem.
Rep. Jim Jordan asked Cohen why, if Trump were so terrible, he would work for him for so many years. But it’s easy to see why Cohen would work for Trump. It’s the same reason anyone hangs on to a bad job—money. Also, in this case, power or proximity to it. Cohen wanted to be a big man and working for Trump made him feel big. So, yeah, it’s not hard to see why a man like Cohen might stick with Trump.
A better question is why Trump would employ someone with such terrible scruples for such a long time. Why would he want a man of bad character handling his business? And Cohen was one of many men of bad character serving the current president. In fact, Trump seems to prefer to work with criminals. He likes people who aren’t afraid to bend the law, to make threats, and to play dirty. The question Jim Jordan ought to be asking is not, why did Cohen continue to work for Trump; it’s, why did Trump continue to employ men like Cohen?
The sort of man who willingly surrounds himself with criminals is a criminal. The sort of man who surrounds himself with liars is a liar. The sort of man who surrounds himself with bullies is a bully. The sort of man who surrounds himself with cheaters is a cheater. The sort of man who surrounds himself with rats is a rat. Trump is the King of the Rats.
It would be nice if we could get testimony from someone with an impeccable record and a history of honest and fair dealings, but those people don’t exist in Trump’s world. This is not unusual. When the Feds go after organized crime bosses, they know that the witnesses will suffer from credibility issues. After all, a mobster spends his days with other mobsters. Who knows the inner dealings of a criminal enterprise better than one of the criminals?
I know the Republican members of Congress hope to discredit Michael Cohen and cast doubt on his veracity as a witness. They want to paint Cohen as someone so dishonest and unreliable that nothing he says can be taken as the truth. They problem with that is that Cohen is made in the image of his one-time boss and mentor. If we’re to believe Cohen is a dirty rat, then it follows that Trump is the dirtiest rat of all. And men like Jim Jordan are starting to look pretty rat-faced, as well.
Let’s hope that between Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York, someone is building a better trap for all the rats scurrying around Washington right now.