Michael Cohen's hollow apologies
In December, President Donald Trump’s attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for the illegal hush-money payments he made regarding two women Trump had affairs with prior to the campaign. The fact that we as a nation talk about the president having a “fixer” like it’s a normal thing for the leader of the free world to have is wild all on its own, but beside the point here.
Following his sentencing, Cohen embarked on an “apology” tour. Pivotal in this endeavor was an interview with George Stephanopoulos that was picked up and dissected by multiple other media outlets. In this interview, Cohen talked about how he was “done with lying,” how he “took responsibility for [his] actions” and “told the truth.”
What is so infuriating about this interview and the ensuing response is the light in which it paints Cohen. He looks sympathetic and remorseful, as if he was just another person who fell victim to President Trump. This could not be further from the truth, and for media outlets to fall for this narrative is a journalistic failure, as it ignores the other vile things Cohen did during his time working for Trump.
The experiences of my family, and so many other families across America, are living proof that the persona Cohen has built for himself in recent weeks is completely manufactured. My mother, like so many others, worked at a company that was swindled by Trump almost a decade before he began his presidential run. It’s not a standout story in any way – the company was hired by the Trump Organization, they did the work they were hired to do and then were refused pay – but what does stand out to me now is the letter sent from the Trump Organization refusing payment, which was signed by none other than Cohen. If Cohen signed a letter like this once, I have no doubt he signed countless others that the Trump Organization sent out denying contracted companies fair compensation for their work.
Cohen’s recent public appearances suggest that wants to make amends or has come to regret his actions – I call b.s. The regret that Cohen has been showing since his sentencing is nothing but manufactured and selfish. He isn’t sorry that he hurt people; he’s sorry that people found out about some of the crimes that he did, that he has to spend three years in prison and that he’ll probably never work in New York again. Furthermore, the repercussions he’s actually had to face have been shockingly light. I am by no means the first person to make this point, but Michael Cohen got three years in prison for violating campaign finance laws in a presidential campaign. According to NBC News, the average prison sentence handed down for a drug offense is more than six years.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of negotiating a deal with Cohen for the prosecutors. I get that Cohen wasn’t the main focus of the investigation, and his cooperation was vital for furthering the investigation to get to the heart of what happened during and beyond the 2016 election. What infuriates me about this whole situation is Cohen playing the victim and trotting out these sappy apologies in an attempt to claim the moral high ground over Trump.
If Cohen was actually sorry, he wouldn’t just take responsibility for the crimes with which he was charged; he would take responsibility for every other terrible thing he did at the behest of Trump. He would be honest about the people he hurt and the money he kept workers from rightly being paid. Any admission that does not include that is insincere and selfish.
The company my mom worked for at the time got lucky – the work they did for them only cost a couple thousand dollars. They were able to recover. The same cannot be said for all the companies that had these kinds of dealings with the Trump Organization. Cohen helped Trump disrupt lives and hurt people; until he admits that, his new apologies mean nothing.