The Post reports that Democrats have every intention of following up on Cohen’s leads:
A House Intelligence Committee aide said that the panel anticipates bringing in for an interview Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, but did not name a date for when they planned to make that happen.And House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings said Thursday that any person Cohen named during public testimony the day before will “have a good chance of hearing from us” for “at least an interview.”“All you have to do is follow the transcript,” the Maryland Democrat said. “If there were names that were mentioned, or records that were mentioned during the hearing, we want to take a look at all of that. . . . We’ll go through, we’ll figure out who we want to talk to, and we’ll bring them in.”
And the Judiciary Committee also may get into the act.
If this reminds you of the Senate Watergate hearings before the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings, you are not alone. It was in the former that we learned about a cast of characters and groups (the plumbers, CREEP), heard from former White House lawyer John Dean and watched Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) ask the iconic question, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” That played on TV from February 1973 through June 1974 — just about the same period of time between now and the 2020 election.
If you thought Cohen had a lot to say, wait for Weisselberg — who has been charged with no crime for the Republicans to holler about — to take the House members through checks, financial statements, phone conversations and the rest detailing Trump’s finances. Judging from Cohen’s testimony, it does not seem as though the Southern District of New York prosecutors have much of a problem with the House plowing over some of the same ground they have covered.
In other words, way before moving on to consider the possibility of impeachment, there will be months of hearings laying out in public potential Trump crimes and assembling a list of Trump’s lies. None of this, or very little, may touch on the Russia probe and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s final report. This, by the way, is why Trump and his cronies were so upset when Cohen’s office and home were raided.
No wonder Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is in no rush to move to impeachment. “Impeachment is a divisive issue,” she warned at her Thursday news conference. Why bother with something that will raise hackles and in all likelihood amount to nothing, given the Senate will not agree to remove Trump? Instead, Democrats can have a year or more of hearings to inform the voters what kind of character Trump is — while litigation on foreign emoluments, for example, delves into his foreign holdings and liabilities.
Remember, provided that no statute of limitations has run out, federal and state crimes (for which a presidential pardon is unavailable) can be pursued after Trump leaves office. (State prosecutors, by the way, aren’t bound by Justice Department guidelines on the indictment of a sitting president and could try indicting him for state crimes while Trump is in office.) There is no Justice Department guideline preventing prosecution of an entity such as the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign. So there could be some criminal cases filed before the election involving Trump.
If Trump hasn’t fled the scene with a Pence pardon in hand by the time he reaches the 2020 election, we may barely remember a time he was fixated on Mueller. Instead, voters may have been overwhelmed with a record of misdeeds and lies, which, if known at the time Trump ran in 2016, would have prevented him from getting elected in the first place. It will be clear for all but the Trump dead-enders that he has repeatedly lied to the American people. (Forget about state and federal authorities.) And we know from the Cohen hearing how much Republican congressmen hate liars.
Democrats may be entirely content to let all of this unfold, leaving Trump and the GOP mortally wounded but not yet expired on Election Day 2020.
It’s all upside and no downside for Democrats to proceed this way, especially if they manage to keep moving forward substantive, popular legislation — including background checks, lowering prescription drug costs and school construction — as Pelosi detailed Thursday. Somehow, I don’t imagine Pelosi is going to get sidetracked with impeachment proceedings, She’s having too much fun winning.