Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to federal campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and perjury earlier in the year.
In statements to the court, Cohen, who served as legal counsel to both President Trump and his business and as former deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee, implicated the president in a pair of campaign finance violations, stemming from payments he made ahead of the 2016 election to two women who say they had affairs with Trump.
Congressional Republicans and Fox News talking heads responded to the news by claiming that, because Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, his allegations against Trump should also be considered unreliable.
Even before the verdict was announced, Senate Republicans sought to discredit Cohen — who produced an audio tape of Trump earlier this year, discussing the hush money payments — by calling him a liar. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said on Tuesday, “Jesus loves him, but everybody else thinks he’s an idiot… He’s obviously a sleaze-oid grifter. And if I were a prosecutor, I wouldn’t base a prosecution on evidence given to me by Mr. Cohen.”
On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters they should not believe anything Cohen says. “To what extent do you want to put confidence in what a liar says?” he asked during a conference call.
Fox News, the president’s preferred news outlet, spent much of the afternoon arguing similar points.
On Outnumbered, Fox News regular Tom Dupree argued that “the American people probably have a bit of Cohen fatigue.”
“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest, the Democrats’ interest particularly, to bring Michael Cohen back [before Congress],” he said.
Host Harris Faulkner responded that the American people might also have “an allergy to lying.” Katie Pavlich chimed in, claiming that one could “kind of guess, based on Michael Cohen’s history of not being straight with practically anybody, about how credible [any information Cohen provides] really is.”
On her follow-up show, Outnumbered Overtime, Faulkner asked former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray about the credibility of “somebody who has a history” of lying. “Telling the truth is challenging for him,” she said.
“He’s guilty of perjury. Let’s just start with that.” Ray replied. “…The Republicans will have a field day with this if the Democrats decide to call Michael Cohen as a witness sometime between now and March,” Ray added.
Later, Faulkner also asked Rep. Andy Biggs (R-KY) for his take, to which he predicted that Democrats would try to “squeeze” Cohen for damaging information on Trump.
“[…] What you have going on here is a guy who is not truthful, apparently, and at the same time they want to rely on what he says to try and impeach President Trump or indict him or whatever other objective they have,” he said. “This is the problem I have.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested Wednesday that Cohen’s conviction wasn’t all that important because he had implicated the president in crimes that had nothing to do with Russian interference or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the central focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
“Any time a former lawyer of yours goes to jail it’s probably not a good day, but I have yet to see any evidence coming from Mr. Cohen of collusion,” he said.
In addition to the campaign finance violations, Cohen pleaded guilty in August to bank fraud and tax evasion, charges brought against him by prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, in relation to his taxi business and several falsified loan documents.
In November, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project the Trump Organization had been trying to build in Moscow. Cohen told investigators that Trump’s negotiations had ended in January 2016, when in fact they had ended in June of that year, around the time Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination. Cohen also admitted he hid the extent of Trump’s involvement with the deal.