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Insight: Why The Trump-Cohen Drama Can Serve As A Cautionary Tale For Us All

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, is sworn in to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, last week. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, is sworn in to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, last week. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Malcolm Strachan

TESTIMONY given by Michael Cohen - former attorney of US President Donald Trump – took over American media last. With impeachment becoming a possibility, yet still a rarity in American politics, many are on the edge of their seat.

President Donald Trump’s presidency has been highlighted by divisiveness and oppression of people of colour – having a striking resemblance to the hate and violence displayed towards people of colour during the civil rights era. The US, in some ways, looks as if it jumped in a time machine and turned the dial back half a century.

House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings made a chilling statement to those present at the Cohen testimony during his closing commentary. “We are better than this,” he said.

In many ways, Cummings, the son of sharecroppers from Virginia, could have been asking a question to those in the room: “We are better than this?”

With the walls potentially falling down around the American president, one must wonder how did they get here to begin with and what can the lessons be?

Certainly, The Bahamas is no stranger to secrecy in politics that often betters the best and worst politicians alike. Perhaps most timely, with former Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald’s retirement from frontline politics, we are all reminded of his contributions to Bahamian society. Despite any good things he would have accomplished during his tenure, they are overshadowed by his cover-up of the Rubis oil spill and the shameful solicitation of Baha Mar contracts from then-developer Sarkis Izmirlian, all while Fitzgerald was a Cabinet minister in the Christie administration.

Fitzgerald’s legacy was torpedoed in the latter instance, with people broadly only recalling these damning revelations as his contributions to Bahamian politics. This undoubtedly speaks to the importance of integrity in politics - when politicians lack integrity, they can bring shame upon a nation.

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, a man having lost all dignity in the decade-plus he worked for the US president, is now trying to reclaim some of it back. It is integrity Cohen seems to be seeking to regain after having the responsibility of cleaning up his former boss’ “dirty deeds”.

Cohen’s jaw-dropping testimony dropped bombshell after bombshell, as he gave listeners around the world insight into the shadowy character of the President of The United States. Facing a three-year prison sentence for lies he told to Congress, campaign finance violations and tax evasion – all to provide cover for a man he claimed he once admired – Cohen’s testimony most certainly is a cautionary tale for all aspiring to become involved in politics.

It also shows us the importance of having legislation enacting the Freedom of Information, protection of whistleblowers and a system in place to enforce campaign finance laws.

Although the whistleblower provision of the Freedom of Information Act came into effect a year ago, the government still has much work to do in this regard. Nonetheless, we now join a group of countries that have sought to protect those courageous enough to voice wrongdoings in the public service.

The provision states: “No person may be subject to any legal, administrative or employment related sanction, regardless of any breach of a legal or employment-related obligation, for releasing information on wrongdoing, or that which would disclose a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, as long as he acted in good faith and in the reasonable belief that the information was substantially true and disclosed evidence of wrongdoing or a serious threat to health, safety or the environment.”

Prime Minister Minnis also promised campaign finance laws will be enacted during this term, but noted it is an “ongoing process” that will not take place overnight - obviously acknowledging all of the moving parts that will be required for it to be successfully implemented.

Attorney General Carl Bethel, echoing the prime minister’s sentiments, also indicated that “full implementation is not a one-day experience”. He said: “There has to be training at every level in the public service and civil society. Every single government administrator’s office, in every Family Island no matter how remote, will have to have an Information Officer who has to be trained.”

We must submit both men are right in this instance. However, making this a priority during this administrative term seems more farfetched when considering the amount of resources that are needed from a limited pool. Realistically, we should not be all that surprised if campaign finance continues to become a moving goal post with the government’s plate being as full as it is – despite how timely and necessary its enactment may be.

Looking no further than our neighbours to the north and juxtaposing it with the claims of corruption being bandied about today in our country, it is evident we don’t have anywhere near what is needed to implement such a system. But we must start somewhere - and the sooner the better.

As opposed to premature campaigning and trading petty jibes with the Opposition leader, a more meaningful use of time would be prioritising these efforts and implementing a system that would allow us to clean up our democracy and avoid the current climate that exists carrying on into the future. Hopefully, the Prime Minister and Attorney General are working earnestly in making these much-needed pillars of a modern democracy realities in The Bahamas.

Comments

bahamianson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

What are you talking about? This is on American media because according to Lara Logan, the media has 85% of the journalist who are Registered Democrats! Therefore, if CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc, are all Democratic propaganda machines, what else do you expect to hear all day? Do you think they are going to say one good word about the Republican party and Donald Trump's? Stop the Hogwash please and research slavery and the Democratic party. Who was good old Abe?If Fox News was removed from our cable TV , and all we have to listen to is Democratic news stations, it's no wonder you wrote this article the way you did. Utter Hogwash!

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BahamaPundit 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I completely agree with your assessment that we need a Freedom of Information Act. However, you lost me when you said "President Donald Trump’s presidency has been highlighted by divisiveness and oppression of people of colour – having a striking resemblance to the hate and violence displayed towards people of colour during the civil rights era." What an insult to intelligent black people this article is. Was this fake news article written by Jussie Smollett? The leftist media and Democrats are the ones taking advantage of black Americans! Under Trump, African Americans have the highest employment ever! Stop taking us for idiots Tribune media.

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BahamaPundit 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We are not on the edge of our seats. We are disgusted at the presidential harassment by Democrats in the US. Imagine publicly broadcasting a disbarred lawyer talk about privileged client business! What kind of lawyer does that to a client? Most lawyers would rather die than break their oath of confidentiality to their clients. Who would trust anything such a person says? It just shows how low class and dirty the US Democrats have become. It is truly horrifying to watch!

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joeblow 2 months, 2 weeks ago

...Cohen is a convicted liar, but can only be believed IF he says something, anything to incriminate Trump!

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Sickened 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I guess you're also disgusted by the FNM so called witch hunt? I guess some just like to have criminals and nasties roaming free and praying on the innocent. I DON'T!!!

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joeblow 2 months, 2 weeks ago

... you missed the point! Cohen has already been convicted of lying to Congress, for that he is going to jail. Why should he be believed? It appears he would say what is necessary to create the illusion of cooperation to reduce his sentence- this is not an unreasonable deduction. It is NOT to be compared to attempts to gain convictions for malfeasance of former local government officials.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hopefully trump will end up in jail. He is a corrupt, racist, misogynist, moronic lying pig....

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Black unemployment has been rising steadily for the past 20 years. Trump had very little to do with that. Get the facts before you post....

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joeblow 2 months, 2 weeks ago

.. lower unemployment in two years under Trump than 8 years under Obama and Trumps rising popularity among American blacks says it all!

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Sickened 2 months, 2 weeks ago

No it doesn't. It has to do with the economy, which was largely out of Obama's control. You really think the market rebound and confidence level was simply because Trump was elected? SMH. Some leaders happen to get elected during or around a huge recession. They did not create the recession, but they have to manage the government during that recession.

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bahamianson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Fake news and pure propaganda. Lara Logan exposed the mainstream media in America. She said that 85% of journalist are registered Democrats! If CNN, MSNBC,CBS,ABC,NBC, The Wall Street Journal,The New York Post, BuzzFeed, and the rest of them are all Democrats with far leftist, liberal thinking and they are covering Donald Trump, do you expect the news to be fare and in favour of Donald Trump? Come on, it sounds like you have been drinking the Democratic Socialist Kool-Aid. When you walk into any business on the island of New Providence including every bank, you are watching these news stations. What happened to Fox News? Cable Bahamas took them out! Some bahamians know what is going on!

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

That's only because 85% of journalists are intelligent, rational human beings....

There is something very wrong with the right if scum like bush and trump can be potus...

Funny how both won with minority votes...

Time to get rid of the electoral college methinks...

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

There you go again. 96% dissapproval among blacks.... Where you getting your info? Rush? Hannity????

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And you obviously do not understand what the term "rising steadily" means....

You see the day he was sworn in it was higher than the year before, the next year it was higher than the year before. In other words he had nothing to do with it....

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And trump's racism is a matter of record. Established, documented fact....

Not up for debate...

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BahamaPundit 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hmm. Can't remember seeing Trump round up and lynch black people or pass laws that are prejudicial against them. Just because I say one or two colourful things does not mean I'm a racist in my books. Otherwise, the majority of Bahamians are racists.

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TheMadHatter 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Trump should open up the southern border totally. Let them ALL in. Then there can be a civil war and just get it over with. That will then serve as a lesson to idiots in the future.

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BahamaPundit 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Eactly. How long will the Leftists burry their heads in the sand and pretend that demographics don't matter in a majority rule democracy. You fill America up with third world immigrants, and America will become more third world. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Building the wall is such a no brainer; I am shocked that Trump has been opposed on this basic national security requirement. With the minaturization of nuclear warheads, a nuclear device could easily be smuggled across an open, porous border, along with dirty bombs, chemical weapons, fentanyl, machine guns, gang members and trafficked women.

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DDK 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"Prime Minister Minnis also promised campaign finance laws will be enacted during this term, but noted it is an “ongoing process” that will not take place overnight - obviously acknowledging all of the moving parts that will be required for it to be successfully implemented.

Attorney General Carl Bethel, echoing the prime minister’s sentiments, also indicated that “full implementation is not a one-day experience”. He said: “There has to be training at every level in the public service and civil society. Every single government administrator’s office, in every Family Island no matter how remote, will have to have an Information Officer who has to be trained.”

Trump, Cohen, and ridiculous U.S. politics and polices aside, I find the above quite hilarious! Who needs CNN, Fox and MSNBC? We have our very own Comedy Central!

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Malcom the Prime Minister also said "Pop the sum bags necks" What happened to that Malcom Strachan.??

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licks2 2 months, 2 weeks ago

LAW AND PROCESSES. . .their personal feelings don't count here. . .none of them try, sentence or carry out any executions in laws. . .THEY CAN TALK A MUCH AS THEY WISH. . .THE COURTS ALONE HAVE THAT ROLE!!

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