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In questioning Michael Cohen at the momentous House hearing Wednesday, Republicans tried to paint Donald Trump’s former lawyer as a disappointed applicant for a top White House job who is now seeking revenge on the president.
After a blistering opening statement in which Cohen called President Trump a racist, con man and cheat, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, questioned Cohen about his career. He pointed out that despite all the negative things Cohen had said about Trump, he had nevertheless worked for him for over a decade before asking about what happened after the 2016 election.
“How long did you work in the White House?” asked Jordan.
“I never worked in the White House,” replied Cohen.
“And that’s the point, isn’t it, Mr. Cohen?” said Jordan.
Cohen denied that was the reason he had turned against Trump, but Jordan painted him as a bitter former employee, upset that he “didn’t get brought to the dance.”
“I was extremely proud to be personal attorney to the president of the United States of America,” said Cohen. “I did not want to go to the White House. I was offered jobs. I can tell you a story of Mr. Trump reaming out [former Chief of Staff] Reince Priebus because I had not taken a job where Mr. Trump wanted me to, which was working with Don McGahn at the White House general counsel’s office.”
Reporting by CNN, however, indicates that Cohen very much wanted a top White House job.
Cohen said a lawyer advised him against taking a post with the White House counsel because there would be no attorney-client privilege in his dealings with Trump, which would make it difficult for him to handle personal matters for the president.
Jordan called Cohen “selfish” and compared his motivation for testifying to that of former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017 and who subsequently offered testimony detrimental to the president.
Cohen insisted that he got “exactly what he wanted,” which was to be the personal attorney to the president, enjoy his son’s senior year of high school and wait for his daughter to return to New York after her college graduation. Jordan pointed out that he was also going to federal prison.
The president’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, both stated on Twitter during the testimony that Cohen had indeed sought a job at the White House. “Michael was lobbying EVERYONE to be ‘Chief of Staff.’ It was the biggest joke in the campaign and around the office. Did he just perjure himself again?” wrote Eric Trump. “Hahahaha Michael Cohen begged to work at the White House and everyone knows it,” wrote Donald Trump, Jr.
If evidence, such as emails, emerges showing that Cohen had asked for the chief of staff job or another role in the White House, he might be subject to additional perjury charges.