Petri: A mercifully condensed transcript of the Cohen hearing

In which one hour of testimony and five of grandstanding is boiled down to the good stuff.

By Alexandra Petri

The Washington Post

Michael Cohen’s testimony Wednesday was a thrilling orgy of yelling, and it went roughly as follows:

Michael Cohen: Donald Trump is a racist, a con man and a cheat! I can say this for sure because I was indispensable to him for years. If this is a witch hunt, I was his familiar. For several years, he turned me into a toad, and I was honestly grateful. Anyway, 2016 was a huge mistake.

Uh, I am testifying now because I have decided to alter the habit of a lifetime and also because I missed having old men yell at me.

Rep Mark Meadows, R-N.C.: To your first point, how dare you speak ill of President Trump? I have never heard him say anything racist in private. He saves these remarks for his public, where they are appreciated and have led to his election. Speaking of problematic statements about race, I have brought in a black person who works for President Trump. I think that says it all!

Another Republican: Who can even believe a word this man says? Why are we wasting time here with this liar, a man who has told lies?! There is nothing I hate more than people who have told lies, even a single time, let alone regularly!

Cohen: Does anyone have the slightest interest in questioning me about, like, the crimes?

A different Republican: I have an interest in asking why Donald Trump, a prince of a man, whose sandal I am not fit to tie the thong of, would hire a gremlin, a ghoul, a gargoyle — NAY, a grotesque, for you do not even keep water away from the sides of buildings during rainstorms — like yourself? What kind of wool did you pull over his perfect, beautiful, all-seeing eyes?

Cohen:: I did this for years and I’m honestly a little embarrassed listening to you.

A Democrat: Uh, was there … a love child?

Cohen: No?

Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland: Did anyone prep for this?

Some Republican: Why would we prep for a travesty of the process?! Why would we sully ourselves by thinking of this for a second more than strictly necessary? We have important business to transact!

Cummings: Am I hallucinating the 600 years we spent grilling Hillary Clinton?

Other Republican: You say you are a liar. How do we know what to believe, if you always lie?

Cohen: No, no! If I said, “Donald Trump always tells the truth,” and then he said, “Michael Cohen always lies,” then you would not know what to believe!

[A lengthy recess.]

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.: I have some questions about the possible crimes and about whom I might ask to find more information about crimes.

Cohen: Oh, here are several associates you can consult. Thank you! I was feeling like nobody cared.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.: Is is true, Mr. Cohen, that someone can have a black friend and be racist?

Cohen: Yes.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.: I just want to say that one might call bringing in a person of color as some sort of prop to prove that the president is not racist … kind of racist.

[Ten minutes ensue during which Mark Meadows has to be reassured that saying he did something racist is not the same as calling him, personally, a racist, an unthinkable insult that would require him to meet them with pistols in a clearing at dawn. Everything stops until he can be sufficiently soothed but before he can announce how many times he has seen “Green Book.” Michael Cohen is also there.]

Cohen:Uh, I am sorry for every decision that led me to have to sit here through this interaction. I gave Donald Trump everything, and I see you now, doing what I did. You think he will not also turn you into toads. But I see the slime forming on your cranial crests. I know where this is headed.

Cummings: Mr. Cohen, you seem in a funk. But remember, this is your destiny to be here. In the future, when we are dancing with the angels, they will ask, what did you do in the year 2019? And you will be able to say that you tried to do the right thing! Or at least sat through this hearing being insulted for six hours while we learned … not much!

[A flourish of trumpets. Michael Cohen is borne partway into the sky, trailing clouds of glory. He remains hovering about three feet over the table until one of his lawyers begins pushing him along down the hallway like a sad balloon.]

Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter @petridishes.

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