The Morning Briefing: Michael Cohen, North Korea, AOC, and Beto O'Rourke
If you’re just waking up, the news this morning is that Donald Trump abruptly ended talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, departing from Vietnam two hours early with no deal. For the Trump White House, this is actually … good? Because it means that Trump didn’t accept a bad deal. If Trump is to be believed, negotiations broke down because North Korea agreed to denuclearization only if all sanctions against the country could be lifted. Trump, however, wasn’t prepared to lift all sanctions, so he walked away from a deal. He claims that he and Kim Jong-un still have a warm relationship (fascist bros!), and negotiations will continue.
Trump said Kim promised he'd still refrain from testing "of rockets and nuclear," regardless of the non-deal, "so, you know, I trust him, and I take him at his word. "— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 28, 2019
I think a murderous dictator is exactly the kind of guy we should be trusting!
Ultimately, however, that’s not bad … if what Trump is saying is true. That’s up for debate, however, because the way things work in situations like these is that we have to take the word of a man who has lied over 9,000 documented times since the beginning of his Presidency. Also, he booted four reporters from his dinner with Kim because the Associated Press’ reporter had the audacity to … ask a question? The nerve of these journalists!
One takeaway that’s not going to sit well with anyone is this comment from the press conference afterward:
BREAKING: President Trump, asked about responsibility for the death of American Otto Warmbier after his detainment in North Korea, President Trump says "a lot of people, big country," and Kim Jong Un "tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I’ll take him at his word.” pic.twitter.com/GQ1Wcqxiu4— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 28, 2019
You mean, like how Putin didn’t know about Russian meddling in American elections? Or how the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia didn’t know about Jamal Khashoggi’s death? I mean, two years into the Trump presidency and the world leaders with whom the President is most close are not Justin Trudeau or Theresa May or Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel. It’s Kim Jong-un, the Crown Prince, and Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, we’ll talk more about Michael Cohen a little later this morning, but there were a few key takeaways from yesterday’s testimony, namely that Cohen exposed a lot of issues but also didn’t really say anything that we didn’t really already know.
Cohen hearing was astonishing for 1) sheer volume and variety of alleged misconduct by the president 2) extent to which it all seems plausible and consistent with what we know of his character 3) how numb we have become in two short yrs to such disclosures— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) February 27, 2019
Democrats scored a lot of political points during the hearing, and the Republicans completely bombed by not asking any substantive questions, but there were no major bombshells in the hours of testimony.
Chris Christie on Republicans at Cohen testimony: "I can guarantee" Pres. Trump is "sitting in Vietnam right now, fuming that no one's defending him." https://t.co/cQKR8VvPRB pic.twitter.com/JVogHMcAvL— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) February 27, 2019
There were some dangers raised by Cohen. The fact that Trump might have known about the Wikileaks dump from Roger Stone is not necessarily collusion, but the fact that Trump denied that knowledge under oath is a problem.
Fox News' Andrew Napolitano says Michael Cohen's testimony should be of concern for Trump.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 28, 2019
"He paints a potentially grave picture for the president. If the conversation he says he overheard with Roger Stone is true, then the president lied under oath." https://t.co/DEOS3G13yw
Probably the best line of questioning actually came from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who illustrated exactly why Republicans are terrified of her. She did what Kamala Harris did in testimony with Jeff Sessions last year: Used her time to implicate others and lay the foundation for more hearings (and Trump taxes!)
Notwithstanding the hype, the fact is that @AOC knows how to ask questions at a hearing, which a lot of other members don't. She just successfully laid the predicate for issuing subpoenas to several more witnesses & seeking Trump's taxes.— David Lauter (@DavidLauter) February 27, 2019
There were some theatrics, too, mostly over whether Mark Meadows and Donald Trump are racists (they are). Mark Meadows trotted out a black Trump employee as a prop to show that he’s not racist, and he got called out on it by Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.
Meadows brings African American party planner, Lynne Patton, who worked for Trump org (and now runs part of HUD) to refute racism allegations. pic.twitter.com/x22GDtr6H3— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 27, 2019
Rep. Rashida Tlaib calls out earlier remarks from Rep. Mark Meadows: “Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist…that someone would actually use a prop…in this chamber…is alone racist in itself.” pic.twitter.com/thxouuQM7D— Axios (@axios) February 27, 2019
.@AyannaPressley: Would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the diaspora as “sh*thole countries” and refer to white supremacists as “fine people,” have a black friend and still be racist?— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 27, 2019
Michael Cohen: Yes. pic.twitter.com/DS1GvubGBl
I think the Cohen statement that probably resonated the most yesterday was this one:
Cohen: "I'm responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you're doing now for ten years. I protected Mr. Trump…I can only warn people the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I'm suffering" pic.twitter.com/smNHbWzmVK— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) February 27, 2019
Although this one probably struck the most terror:
Holy shit.— (((evan shapiro))) (@eshap) February 27, 2019
“I worry that if Mr. trump loses in 2020, there will not be a peaceful transfer in power.”#CohenTestimony
Meanwhile, outside of the Cohen hearing, the Florida Bar has opened up an investigation against Matt Gaetz for threatening Michael Cohen on Tuesday night. Also, Beto O’Rourke announced that he would not seek John Cornyn’s Senate seat in 2020, strongly suggesting that he’ll join the race for President.
Header Image Source: Getty Images
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