Michael Cohen's gripping congressional hearing fueled even more talk about Democrats' potential plans to pursue the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump.
But in the near term, it's not clear which side gained more from the testimony of Trump's former personal attorney and fixer: the president's Democratic opponents in Congress, who zeroed in on Cohen's claims that Trump committed illegal acts after taking office; or Trump's Republican defenders, who highlighted Cohen's lack of evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.
Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, a few months before he's scheduled to start his three-year prison term for campaign-finance violations and tax evasion and lying to Congress in 2017 about a failed Trump Organization plan to build a tower in Moscow.
The former Trump loyalist's remarks began with a bang. Cohen said Trump is a "racist" and a "con man" who knew in advance about WikiLeaks' plans to publish stolen Democrats' emails during the election and secretly reimbursed him for hush-money payments made to a porn star after entering the White House. Cohen provided copies of financial statements and checks, alleged schemes to manipulate the value of Trump's assets for financial gain, and delved into the threats he says he made to various people and institutions to benefit Trump.
Only Republicans brought up impeachment during the hearing — a telling omission from the Democrats' wide-ranging lines of inquiry that suggests a cautious approach to the politically volatile subject.
Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., spent a portion of his cross-examination time castigating Democrats for allowing Cohen to appear publicly in the first place.
"This is an attempt to damage our president and set some soft cornerstone for future impeachment proceedings, this is the full intent of the majority," he fumed.
Other Republicans echoed Higgins' accusation.
"I do not think you could believe much of what this guy says," Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the Oversight Committee's ranking Republican, said of Cohen in a "Fox News" interview Wednesday. "What I do think was going on today is that this was the first step in the Democrats' crazy impeachment plans."