Lawmakers yelled at Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen—and each other—during a contentious congressional hearing today (Feb. 27) and the whole affair ended in tears.
For hours, the leadership of the US House Oversight and Reform committee, now controlled by Democrats, sought to extract as much damning information on Trump from his longtime associate. Republicans, meanwhile, spent all their time trying to undermine Cohen’s credibility.
By the end, though, many attendees appeared to have had enough.
“We have got to get back to normal!” said a visibly frustrated Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s chair.
Cohen, who spent the day as the sole witness, looked back at him in tears.
Here are a few of the emotional moments that capped the session:
Cohen started the day by calling his former client “a cheat” and “a conman.” But he devoted the last few minutes he was granted to speak to issue an almost fatherly sermon to Trump. He proceeded to go down a list of Trump low points and blunders.
“In closing, I’d like to say directly to the president: We honor our veterans even in the rain,” he said, referring to the occasion when Trump cancelled a visit to a World War I cemetery to honor American soldiers during a trip to France.
“You don’t disparage generals, gold-star families, prisoners of wars and other heroes who had the courage to fight for this country,” he added.
Cohen chided Trump for villainizing the news media, immigrants, and Muslims, and for forcing the longest government shutdown in US history in an attempt to mollify supporters.
“This behavior is churlish. It denigrates the office of the president, and it’s simply un-American,” Cohen said. “It’s not you.”
Then it was Cohen who got the fatherly speech—from Cummings.
The 68-year-old Democrat gave Cohen, 52, the same advice he said he has given his own children when they’re in trouble: to ask why bad things happen for them, instead of to them.
“It sounds like you’re crying out for us getting back to normal,” Cummings said. “It sounds to me like you want to make sure that our democracy stays intact.”
Cummings said he felt sorry for Cohen and his family, almost breaking up himself as he remembered the sight of Cohen’s daughter coming out the courthouse after he was sentenced for campaign-finance violations, lying to Congress, and tax fraud.
“Man, that thing hurt me,” Cummings said.
He also lamented Trump’s habit of making misleading and inaccurate statements, and his lack of civility—and that of some Republican members of the committee.
“Hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to a better… Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America and a better world,” said Cummings.