Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law



Michael Cohen, the President’s former personal attorney and all-around fixer, testified before the House Government Oversight Committee his past week for some 8 1/2 hours. I was not able to watch it all but did see about 1 1/2 hours plus all the re-runs. The Republicans played the traditional defense counsel role, trying desperately to repudiate Mr. Cohen’s testimony based on his previous convictions for lying to Congress, tax evasion, etc. They failed. The Democrats focused their 5 minutes each on the President’s alleged lying about (a) the Moscow hotel deal, (b) the hush payments, and (c) the Trump Power meeting. With one possible exception, their questioning would have earned them a failing grade in any law school first year advocacy course.

It was, of course, partisan political theater and not serious fact-finding. For the most part, Mr. Cohen stuck to his guns, offering documentary proof when he could, and refusing to be cowed by his criminal convictions.Of what I observed, and was reported, the most interesting, and potentially threatening information Cohen provided, was that the United States District Attorney for the Southern District of New York was still investigating things about which Cohen could not speak. Hmmmmm.

2.  Kim-Trump Summit 2.0.

The President and the Dictator met in Hanoi, Vietnam, for what was billed as the second summit on North Korea’s nuclear program. A two-day conference ended abruptly after the first meeting between the two leaders. The President said it was because Kim wanted ALL of the sanctions lifted in return for limited disclosure and inspection; the Dictator said the United States’ demands were unreasonable without being more specific. Other than leaving alive the hope of further dialogue, nothing concrete was accomplished. There was relief on the part of some American pundits that the President had not agreed to a bad deal just to have a deal.

So, who won? Well, no one actually won. The President showed his meddle in shutting down a situation where there was no advantage for the United States. Kim did not get any economic relief, but continued to gain stature as an international player just by virtue of meeting the President of the United States. Undoubtedly he will continue to benefit from the relaxed sanctions on the part of the Chinese and Russia based upon the “feel-good” first Summit.

The lack of any concrete results also proves the futility of having such high-level conferences without first doing the hard preparation work required for success. Warm, fuzzy feelings won’t carry the day.

3.  Security Clearances.

Despite his, and Ivanka’s, assurances that the top-secret clearance for Jared Kushner resulted from the normal process, it now is apparent that the President had to order granting the clearance for his son-in-law over the objections of his Chief of Staff, his general counsel, and the intelligence agencies That’s wrong.

I was a Foreign Service officer for 8 years; my first clearance was top secret (I later had a much higher clearance). An FSO needed that level of clearance to do their job. The process of qualifying for that clearance was extensive and thorough; a person cannot be entrusted with our nation’s most delicate information unless they have been throroughly vetted. To be given access to such delicate information based solely upon familial connections puts too much at risk.

So, what can we expect now? In my humble opinion, nothing substantive. The Democrats will continue to look for any little misstep by the President or his administration while the Republicans play Sergeant Schultz*. We still have much work to do to rid Washington of toxic, paralyzing partisan politics.


  • “I know nuthing !!”. Hogan’s Heroes


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