WASHINGTON — The strategy was quintessential Rep. Jim Jordan: Seek out the opponent’s weakness and attack, attack, attack.

The former wrestler and Fox News favorite led the Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in their almost obsessive focus on Michael Cohen’s past lies during a blockbuster hearing Wednesday, seeking to discredit the House Democrats’ star witness in their first step investigating President Trump.

But Jordan’s singular focus on Cohen’s past came at a price as Republicans were so focused on the past criminality of Trump’s former lawyer that they had little time to defend the president.

Additionally, Cohen’s easy willingness to admit and express regret for his past “dirty deeds” almost seemed to dilute the potency of their charges. Cohen even defended Trump from rumors that he had struck his wife, Melania – sticking up for the very man he was there to testify against.

Cohen on Wednesday alleged that Trump knew about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee before WikiLeaks had released the documents. He also claimed Trump reimbursed him for hush-payments to women while he was president, and said Trump called him at one point to ensure he kept lying about those payments

Republicans at times asked for proof of these allegations, evidence Cohen didn’t have. But then they quickly pivoted back to question his credibility.

Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.V., spent much of her time reading from her script and expressing outrage that Democrats even invited Cohen to testify. “You’re about to go to prison for lying. How can we believe anything you say? The answer is we can’t.”

After the hearing, American Conservative Union chief Matt Schlapp praised Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., on Twitter.

But former Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., who is close to the president, said on ABC that he can “guarantee” Trump is “sitting in Vietnam right now, fuming that no one’s defending him.” He also argued the performance was “either a failure of those Republicans on the Hill or a failure of the White House to have a unified strategy with them.”


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