Members of the two major parties have taken dramatically different approaches to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s public Wednesday appearance before the House Oversight Committee. Panel member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) quickly distinguished herself with pointed questioning focused more on the facts of the situation than dancing around the now former lawyer’s more salacious assertions.
She called out the president for incessantly skirting financial rules, which is ironic considering just how passionately he’s championed himself as the man for the working class.
Ocasio-Cortez asked whether or not Trump had ever lied not just to tax authorities but to an insurance agency — and Cohen responded with a straightforward “yes.”
That’s a crime.
That’s not where her scrutiny ended, though.
Discussing a New York City area Trump-branded golf course that the new Representative said she’s often seen in-person, Ocasio-Cortez explained that “taxpayers spent $127 million to build Trump Links in a ‘generous deal’ allowing President Trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on a golf course built with public funds.”
Ironically, Ocasio-Cortez has been in the spotlight recently for attacking a similar outpouring of public funds for a project that didn’t stand to benefit the actual public as much as rich executives. She was among those to protest Amazon’s planned new headquarters in New York, which would have come with billions of dollars worth of subsidies. That plan has since been cancelled.
She didn’t mention that during her late Wednesday afternoon questioning of Cohen, instead focusing where her Republican colleagues refused to — on the president’s alleged wide-ranging corrupt and even illegal behavior. She explained that the deeply questionable New York City-area situation isn’t unique, and the now president has routinely benefited from — to be specific — deflating the values of his properties to avoid taxes.
As she continued, pointing to a report about Trump claiming the value of his Jupiter, Florida, golf course as tens of millions of dollars lower than its actual value:
‘This doesn’t seem to be the only time the president has benefited at the expense of the public. Mr. Cohen, I want to ask you about your assertion that the president may have improperly devalued his assets to avoid paying taxes… Mr. Cohen, do you know whether this report is accurate?’
The former Trump lawyer responded bluntly that while he couldn’t speak to the Florida situation, the reported maneuver was “identical” to one he undertook over his Trump National Golf Club at Briarcliff Manor, which is also in the New York City area.
Ocasio-Cortez had other concerns. She also brought up reports that Trump had carried on with a similar scheme to avoid taxes on some of his inheritance, although Cohen said he had no insider information from the 1990s, which was before his time on the Trump team. He did say that the information is out there, and could either be at the Trump Organization or on the president’s ever-elusive tax returns.
Seeking the president’s tax returns could constitute another imminent investigative effort from House Democrats, who newly in the majority, have already indicated they’re keen on obtaining the documents.
Even if every line of the specifically Russia investigation ends — the president still has a lot to worry about.
Watch the hearing:
Featured Image via screenshot from the video