The release of one of Michael Cohen’s tapes, discussing hush-money payments with President Donald Trump to former playboy model Karen McDougal, made headlines all over the country, so much so, it was almost impossible to miss it. Almost.
According to Huffington Post, more or less all of the Republicans, interviewed about the recording and Trump’s apparent call to pay “cash” to McDougal, apparently, did not listen to the tape. Out of a dozen Republicans, only three acknowledged hearing it.
And those who said they came across the tape, did not understand what it said; one even likened it to the “Yanny vs. Laurel” meme.
“I’d like to see the forensic analysis to make sure that it’s ? you know, is it Lanny or is it Yanny? Or whatever that internet thing that went around the other day,” Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), apparently, hadn’t heard all of the tape and reserved his comments till when it was authenticated.
Ross also argued, when pressed by Huff Post, that the president did not say you can’t believe what you’re seeing or reading.
However, ironically, that was the stance Republicans took when discussing the tape.
The most common responses from Republicans, when asked about the tape, were: they had not heard it or they were waiting for authentication.
“This is an amazing time in journalism and in politics right now where, as a member of Congress, you’re asked about tweets, you’re asked about tapes ? obviously haven’t heard,” said Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) — a bold thing to say with Trump’s Twitter record.
“I actually have stuff I do, you know, for a living. Working hard,” said Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).
“I thought you were talking about [Rep.] Steve Cohen, you’re talking about the guy ? I don’t know anything about it and I don’t have any comment on it,” said Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
One Republican lawmaker, Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), even faked a phone call when questioned by Huff Post.
I didn’t include this, but when Rep. David Kustoff ran away from my questions about the Cohen tape today by faking a phone call, I yelled down the hall “How’d the fake phone call go? I don’t know if it worked!”https://t.co/pPHogKgYTe— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) July 25, 2018
House Republicans were adamant to believe Trump did not have prior information about the money arrangement with McDougal, where she was prevented from going public about the alleged affair through a concerning tactic. She made a deal with American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, to give the details of her relationship with Trump.
The former Playboy model sold the rights for $150,000 and was reportedly promised a regular column in the magazine in exchange for her staying quiet.
In the surreptitiously recorded audio, the business mogul and Cohen appeared to be discussing buying the rights to McDougal’s story from the Enquirer’s parent company.
For Republicans, who claim to have not heard the audio, the biggest issue isn’t the money payment; it was if Trump had broken any laws.
Not all broken laws are clear at the moment; however, one thing is for sure: the payment went unreported in his campaign expenditure. There is also a question of Trump’s relationship with the National Enquirer but most importantly, the problem lies with the POTUS and his staff repeatedly lying about the hush money payment and his alleged affair.
However, most Republicans are yet to address those concerns; what they are worried about is Cohen recording his conversation with his client, even though most claim to have not heard it.
“It would give me significant pause if an attorney can tape record a conversation that’s within the attorney-client privilege, and turn around and dump that into the media ? that’s very troubling,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said.
“It’s interesting when an attorney tapes his own client. That’s a new one for me,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said.
Only one Republican acknowledged the tape and had real concerns about it.
Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) thought the tape was “disturbing” because of how Trump has repeatedly changed his narrative about the hush money payment to McDougal.
“I think it’s disturbing for the way that there’s now four different versions of what the president said with regard to this whole issue,” said Sanford, when talking to Huff Post.
“What he’s doing is much bigger than this particular issue or the tape itself,” Sanford said. “What he’s doing is institutionalizing the idea that it’s OK to lie from the Oval Office, or in getting to the Oval Office, systematically and repeatedly,” the Republican said of the president.
He also addressed the suggestion to pay the money in cash.
“That’s what mobsters do,” Sanford said. “That’s what drug lords do; it’s not what normal businesses do, because they want to have a paper trail of their activities.”
A few more Republicans, who said that they had heard the tape, demanded authentication but nevertheless admitted it called for further investigation.
But apart from a few discrepancies, the general Republican rhetoric amid the bombshell revelation by Cohen’s tape was rather ignorant.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst