WASHINGTON — Two junior members of the Texas congressional delegation were in the national spotlight Wednesday as they questioned the integrity of President Donald Trump's former personal attorney in a highly charged hearing on Capitol Hill.
During his appearance Wednesday before the U.S. House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, Michael Cohen repeatedly expressed contrition for his professional relationship with Trump over the last 10 years and for lying before Congress in prior closed-door testimony. Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to Congress, and he has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Cohen testimony marked the first opportunity for newly empowered House Democrats to probe current or former associates of Trump on the president's business practices, alleged payoffs to mistresses, and the hack and release of internal Democratic emails in 2016. The committee is the lead investigative arm of the U.S. House.
The two Texans on the committee — U.S. Reps. Michael Cloud of Victoria and Chip Roy of Austin — were part of an onslaught of Republicans who pummeled Cohen for lacking credibility. No Texas Democrats serve on the committee.
Cloud, who came to Congress last year in a special election, called the exercise "a quagmire of a hearing" and essentially charged that Cohen's professional divorce from Trump was rooted in Cohen's being passed over for a senior position in the Trump administration. It was an allegation Cohen denied.
"I did not want to go to the White House," Cohen replied.
Cloud went on to ask Cohen to commit under oath to donate to charity any future royalties from books and films. Cohen refused this request, as he had from other Republican members throughout the day.
Roy, the former chief of staff to Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, peppered Cohen with a series of yes-or-no questions. Roy also floated the notion that Cohen was denied a White House job, and he pointed out inconsistent comments Cohen made on several fronts. Then Roy launched into a speech arguing that the hearing was a distraction from other federal issues, including the federal deficit, rising health care costs and border security.
"Even in 2016, I was publicly backing a certain Texas Republican for president — some might guess who it was," Roy said. "But you, you were all in. And you either wanted Donald Trump to be your president because it would be good for the country or you did it for your own personal advancement or both.
"Real Americans in my district and across the country wanted the president to be president, not in any way because he's perfect, but rather because they are sick and tired of this hellhole. They supported the president because they are sick and tired of the games we are seeing here today."
In his opening remarks, Cohen accused his former boss of being a racist and a conman, among a litany of other charges.