Michael Cohen’s Testimony: What Should Spirited Reasoners Conclude?

Even before President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, spent a day testifying before Congress, the political battle lines were easy to predict: Republicans would need to claim that nothing he said should be believed, because he was, after all, a convicted liar. Democrats would need to claim that his testimony seemed more credible this time; therefore, his allegations against the President should at least bear further scrutiny.

Neither side could have predicted the ferocity of Mr. Cohen’s attack, using words like “racist” and “cheat” to describe Mr. Trump. Nor could they have predicted his willingness to accept a degree of personal responsibility for his own actions, calling himself a “fool.”

Spirited Reasoners should note, however, that the crucial take-home message lay not in anything Mr. Cohen said, but rather in the fact that he served as an important legal advisor for Mr. Trump for at least ten years, and that he joins a growing list of Trump insiders who have made their way to the exit door in less than honorable fashion.

Last week, we observed that a person’s reputation is largely determined by the quality of the “company he keeps.” We named Mr. Cohen as one of several close Trump associates who have pleaded guilty to crimes. How is it possible, then, to dismiss his current testimony as simply the ravings of a convicted felon?

But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the Republican position is correct; i. e., that Michael Cohen is nothing but a liar and his words should carry no weight. What we are left with, then, is the following question: What sort of business executive, later to be President, would want to work closely with a liar of that ilk for over a decade?

Obvious answer: The only man who would prefer the advice of a liar, rather than that of a truth teller, is one who wants to cover up his own improper behavior. Spirited Reasoners can think of no other logical interpretation.