Fox attacks Michael Cohen as a “convicted liar,” leaves out that his lies were to protect Trump

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Fox News propagandists are trying to undermine testimony from Michael Cohen at Donald Trump’s New York hush-money trial by telling viewers that Trump’s former legal “fixer” is a “convicted liar.” But they’re leaving out the circumstances.

The full story is that Cohen pleaded guilty to perjury after lying to Congress about a proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Russia — which he did in order to protect the then-president’s Kremlin ties from scrutiny.

Cohen is reportedly the “linchpin” of District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case that Trump falsified business records in order to reimburse Cohen for payments he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep Daniels’ claims that she had an affair with Trump from becoming public during the 2016 presidential election. 

Cohen “placed Trump at the center of the hush money plot, saying the then-candidate had promised to reimburse the lawyer for the money he fronted and was constantly updated about behind-the-scenes efforts to bury stories feared to be harmful to the campaign,” during his Monday testimony, The Associated Press reported.

Fox is dedicated to ensuring Trump’s return to the White House by any means necessary, and its star hosts went into overdrive to undermine Cohen’s testimony by portraying him as dishonest. 

“He is not just a convicted felon — he is a convicted liar and a convicted perjurer,” Jeanine Pirro said on The Five. “That is the essence of incredible. He should have a sign on his forehead that reads ‘liar.’”

Jesse Watters said Cohen “went to jail for perjury” and “lied to Congress,” adding that “Alvin Bragg's whole case rests on a lying rat.”

Laura Ingraham called Cohen “a convicted perjurer,” while Sean Hannity said he was “convicted of lying to Congress after lying under oath.”

“Now, according to prosecutors, Cohen is telling the truth this time. All the other lies were just aberrations,” Hannity added.

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Citation From the May 13, 2024, edition of Fox News' Hannity.

It’s true that Cohen is one of Trump’s many, many allies and associates to plead guilty or be convicted of crimes. Cohen’s crimes included perjuring himself to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017; he pleaded guilty the following year. 

But Trumpists like Pirro, Watters, Ingraham, and Hannity are hiding what Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about and why: Cohen’s perjury concealed Trump’s involvement in “the Moscow project,” an effort to build a Trump-branded building in the Russian capital that Cohen was trying to negotiate while Trump was on the campaign trail in 2016.

The Washington Post reported in an article on Cohen’s plea:

According to the criminal information filed by prosecutors, Cohen sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee in which he “knowingly and deliberately” made false statements, including that the Moscow project “ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the company”; that Cohen “never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow project and ‘never considered’ asking Individual 1 to travel for the project”; and that Cohen “did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.”

When Cohen sent his letter, Trump was at the center of a political maelstrom due to his myriad ties to Russia, his Russophillic public posture, and the Kremlin’s effort to aid his election in 2016. In court, Cohen explained that he made the false claims “to be consistent with Individual 1’s [Donald Trump’s] political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1 [Trump].”

Prosecutors similarly said in court filings that “Cohen made the false statements to (1) minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 and (2) give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus and … the very first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”

The perjury charges were filed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Cohen cooperated with the special counsel investigation, reportedly spending “more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller's team.”

Speaking of liars: Hannity, in addition to hiding that information from his viewers, also did not mention the long personal and professional relationship he had with Cohen when Cohen was still in Trump’s good graces. 

In 2018, Cohen’s legal team famously revealed in court that Hannity was one of Cohen’s legal clients, a fact the host had concealed from his audience while repeatedly hosting Trump’s fixer for friendly interviews and defending him from legal repercussions. Hannity responded with a series of shifting stories, at times denying Cohen had been employed as his lawyer while admitting that he had received legal advice and paid him money to ensure lawyer-client confidentiality.

Fox was apparently fine with the whole debacle because the network enforces no ethical standards when it comes to its star host, allowing him to host a show on the network while simultaneously serving as a Trump adviser and GOP political operative.