Michael Cohen keeps GOP leadership position despite federal criminal probe

"I believe in due process," said RNC chair Ronna McDaniel.

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

During a CNN interview on Monday, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel confirmed that Michael Cohen is still an RNC deputy director, and defended him.

“Michael Cohen has not been charged with anything, he’s under investigation,” McDaniel said of Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney who was the target of an FBI raid last week and is currently under federal investigation. “I believe in due process, I’m sure you do too, so we’ll see what happens.”

McDaniel also dismissed concerns about three top RNC officials being simultaneously embroiled in scandal as a “distraction.” In addition to Cohen’s problems, last Friday the Wall Street Journal broke the news that RNC deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy paid $1.6 million to a Playboy Playmate in exchange for her silence about an affair — an agreement negotiated by Cohen. Reporting about the Broidy payment came less than three months after the Wall Street Journal broke news that the then-finance chair of the RNC, Steve Wynn, had engaged in serial sexual harassment and assault.

“This is just a distraction,” McDaniel said. “I think main street America is more focused on, ‘is my paycheck bigger? Am I going to have a job last week? How is my family doing?'”

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While McDaniel now claims to have concerns about “due process,” she wasn’t worried about that when the sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein was a major news story last fall. At that time, McDaniel repeatedly called for the Democratic National Committee to return all of the money given to it by Weinstein, despite the fact he denied the (extremely credible) allegations.

During a CNN interview last October, McDaniel rejected a comparison between Weinstein’s behavior and President Trump, noting that Trump “didn’t have eight settlements.” Those comments haven’t aged well, as we’ve since learned that Trump benefited during the 2016 campaign from at least two hush payments made to women who claim to have had consensual affairs with him.

While the RNC has refused to give back money donated to it by Wynn, it called on Democrats to return donation from former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who resigned amid a groping scandal. McDaniel has justified making that distinction by pointing out that while Wynn denied the allegations, Weinstein and Franken ultimately admitted to wrongdoing.