Read the full transcript of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings’ closing remarks at the hearing of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in front of the House Oversight Committee.
You know I’ve sat here, and I’ve listened to all this, and it’s very painful. It’s very painful. You made a lot of mistakes, Mr. Cohen — and you’ve admitted that. And, you know, one of the saddest parts of this whole thing is that some very innocent people are hurting too. And you acknowledged that. And, um, that’s your family.
And, so you come here today, you… deep in my heart … when I practiced law I represented a lot of lawyers who got in trouble. And, you come saying I have made my mistakes, but now I want to change my life. And you know, if we … as a nation did not give people an opportunity after they’ve made mistakes to change their lives, a whole lot of people would not do very well.
I don’t know where you go from here. As I sat here and I listened to both sides, I just felt as if … and you know… people are now using my words, that they took from me, that didn't give me any credit. We are better than this. … We really are. As a country, we are so much better than this.
And, you know, I told you, and for some reason, Mr. Cohen, I tell my children, I say ‘When bad things happen to you, do not ask the question “Why did it happen to me?” Ask the question, “Why did it happen for me?” I don’t know why this is happening for you. But it’s my hope that a small part of it is for our country to be better. If I hear you correctly, it sounds like you’re crying out for a new normal — for us getting back to normal. It sounds to me like you want to make sure that our democracy stays intact.
The one meeting I had with President Trump, I said to him ‘the greatest gift that you and I, Mr. President, can give to our children, is making sure we give them a democracy that is intact. A … democracy better than the one we came upon. And I’m hoping that, the things you said today will help us again to get back there.
You know, I mean come on now. I mean, when you got, according to The Washington Post, our president has made at least 8,718 … false or misleading statements. That’s stunning. That’s not what we teach our children. I don’t teach mine that. And, for whatever reason, it sounds like you got caught up in it. You got caught up in it. You got caught up in it.
And, some kind of way, I hope that you will, I know that it’s painful going to prison. I know it’s got to be painful being called a rat. And let me explain, a lot of people don’t know the significance of that, but I live in the inner city of Baltimore, all right? And when you call somebody a rat, that’s one of the worst things you can call them because when they go to prison, that means a snitch. I’m just saying. And so, the president called you a rat. We’re better than that! We really are. And I’m hoping that all of us can get back to this democracy that we want, and that we should be passing on our children so they can do better than what we did.
So you wonder whether people believe you — I don’t know. I don’t know whether they believe you. But the fact is, that you’ve come, you have your head down, and this has got to be one of the hardest things that you could do.
Let me tell you the picture that really, really pained me. You were leaving the prison, you were leaving the courthouse, and, I guess it’s your daughter, had braces or something on. Man that thing, man that thing hurt me. As a father of two daughters, it hurt me. And I can imagine how it must feel for you. But I’m just saying to you — I want to first of all thank you. I know that this has been hard. I know that you’ve faced a lot. I know that you are worried about your family. But this is a part of your destiny. And hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to a better, a better, a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America, and a better world. And I mean that from the depths of my heart.
When we’re dancing with the angels, the question we’ll be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing? …
And I’m tired of statements saying … people come in here and say ‘Oh, oh this is the first hearing.’ It is not the first hearing. The first hearing was with regard to prescription drugs. Remember, a little girl, a lady sat there… Her daughter died because she could not get $330 a month in insulin. That was our first hearing. Second hearing: H.R. 1, voting rights, corruption in government. Come on now. We can do more than one thing. And we have got to get back to normal. With that, this meeting is adjourned.