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The Morning Briefing: Michael Cohen, North Korea, AOC, and Beto O'Rourke

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | February 28, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | February 28, 2019 |


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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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!)

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.

I think the Cohen statement that probably resonated the most yesterday was this one:

Although this one probably struck the most terror:

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.