President Donald Trump’s former lawyer fixer, Michael Cohen, has declined to appear at this scheduled hearing on February 7th, citing
“ongoing threats” against his family by President Donald Trump and his current counsel Rudy Giuliani. I have previously criticized Trump for his highly inappropriate references to Cohen’s father-in-law and the warning Cohen that his family could be investigated. The comments looked like an obvious threat and an effort to intimidate a witness who has accused Trump of knowing violations of federal law. However, Cohen’s explanation is hardly convincing, though it is highly ironic. Cohen made his living as a legal thug who threatened anyone who presented a risk to Trump. However, the more likely reason is that recently new stories implicated Cohen in additional criminal conduct and Cohen was afraid that he might be asked about possible criminal conduct by his family, including his father-in-law.
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis previously admitted that he pushed Cohen into the testimony. He now has said that, due to the threats of the President and his counsel, “This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first.” As always, it is far more likely that Michael Cohen is putting his own interests first.
Recently new details arose concerning Cohen’s extensive unethical and unlawful practices. In the latest story, Cohen hired an IT company to influence online polls for Trump (as well as poll for himself). This included the creation of the @WomenForCohen Twitter account. The account tweeted praise for Cohen and is for “Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!”
Cohen then billed the Trump organization but allegedly pocketed much of the money himself, according to The Wall Street Journal.
John Gauger, owner of IT firm RedFinch Solutions LLC, was reportedly retained to rig the polls. Gauger is an officer with Liberty University, but neither he nor the religious university see any problem in his side business dishonestly rigging polls. Cohen charged the Trump organization $50,000 and then sent him a blue Walmart bag containing $12,000 to $13,000 in cash, and, “randomly, a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter.”
Cohen was likely leery of being asked about such new revelations. Moreover, as we previously discussed, Giuliani recently said that the father-in-law’s criminal conduct is the reason that the Southern District of New York was critical of Cohen’s lack of cooperation. He stressed “the Southern District of New York, in the plea, wanted him (Cohen) to go to jail and said he’s lying. They don’t buy the special counsel’s approach. They say he’s lying because he’s holding back information that is far more damaging than the lies that he is sharing with them now. Now, what is that information about? It’s about his father-in-law.” Giuliani went on to note that Shusterman is from the Ukraine and suggested that he was not only involved in criminal conduct but may “have ties to organized crime.”
Shusterman ran taxicab businesses in both New York City and Chicago and reportedly may have pleaded guilty to federal income tax fraud related to his New York business. Cohen got involved in the taxicab business through his father-in-law.
If Cohen is withholding evidence of criminal acts by himself or his family, it has direct bearing on his credibility as a witness. He should now be subpoenaed but there should be no limitations on the questions from members. It is finally the time to get the whole truth and nothing but the truth from Michael Cohen.