Some journalists are already touting Michael Cohen as the next John Dean, casting his upcoming congressional testimony as nothing short of historic.
But they are probably jacking up expectations too high.
While President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer turning on him before a House committee will be a television spectacle, Cohen’s allies say he will testify under great constraints.
The larger story, they say, is how this man who tied himself so closely to Trump has been utterly devastated — and is, in a sense, seeking redemption.
Cohen is flat broke. His wife and family are under enormous emotional strain. He is getting surgery a week before his testimony for a bone spur in his shoulder that has left him unable to lift his arm.
The family is living in a hotel room with insurance payments following a flood at their home.
And a month after his February 7 Hill appearance, Cohen reports to prison for three years.
In short, these sources say, Cohen will offer compelling testimony, but those who expect him to be able to fire a silver bullet that would bring down the president are going to be sorely disappointed. Cohen may have important new information that he has disclosed to Robert Mueller in 70 hours of interviews with prosecutors, but if so, he won’t be able to reveal it.
The major limitation, as Cohen has said, is that he can’t discuss anything still under investigation by the special counsel. That means Cohen, who is still hoping for a reduction in his sentence, can’t answer questions about Russian collusion or the proposed real estate project in Moscow.
It also means he can’t address the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer (who was recently indicted on money-laundering charges).
“I expect Michael’s testimony will be personal, not partisan, and compelling,” Lanny Davis, again acting as Cohen’s attorney, told me. “He will describe what he did for Mr. Trump for 10 years that he now looks back on, as stated in court, with shame and regret. And he will explain what caused him, on July 2, 2018, to turn and put his family and country first, recognizing the dangers to the country in Mr. Trump’s misconduct and reckless behavior.”
In the interview, Davis implied a further reason for Cohen’s desire to testify.
Given the fraud and lying charges in the two Cohen guilty pleas, Davis said he “and many others believe the …