Feb. 27, 2019, will be remembered as the day President Donald Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen publicly spilled the tea to Congress. The former Trump attorney spent the better part of Wednesday fielding questions from members of the House Oversight Committee about his decade-long history with the president. A lot was discussed, but there's a whole other layer of the public hearing that's worth taking a look at. Michael Cohen's body language during his congressional hearing shows he was prepared.
On the second day of a three-day stretch of testimonies, Cohen appeared before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27 for the only public hearing he'll be taking part in. While Cohen shared a lot about his time with Trump, including more on Stormy Daniels' alleged affair with Trump — which the president denies — there was one glaring portion of the hearing that couldn't be overlooked: Cohen has a history of lying to Congress. In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple crimes, including lying to Congress about the length of time the Trump Tower in Moscow deal extended into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, according to CNN. He will begin his sentence in May.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Newsweek in a statement that "it’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word."
But clearly, people were interested. On Feb. 27, Cohen appeared before Congress in an intense hearing that addressed a lot of the things we all wanted to know, including details of the hush-money payment Cohen admittedly made to Daniels over the alleged affair, alleged conversations about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russia-associated lawyer, and even whether the 2016 Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia. But, what can we believe?
Body language expert Patti Wood tells Elite Daily by email that figuring out whether Cohen is telling the truth or not is "difficult to discern because he is a practiced, rehearsed, known liar." She added, "If someone has justified for decades doing unethical things and lying on a regular basis, tells dissipate," she said, referencing the physical cues that indicate a lie.
However, Wood did say that when it came to Cohen saying negative things about Trump — like in his opening statement where he called him a "con man" and a "cheat," she thinks Cohen believed what he was saying, thanks to the "strength in his voice and definitiveness in his head movements and small spontaneous forward movements."
"He was honest and authentic [in] his delivery of those specific statements about Trump," Wood added.
One of the most memorable moments in Cohen's testimony was when he castigated lawmakers, as well as himself, for supposedly enabling President Trump. In response to Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee)'s question about when he reached his "breaking point" with the president, Cohen said,
Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another. Putting up silly things like this. Really unbecoming of Congress. It's that sort of behavior that I'm responsible for. I'm responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you are doing now for 10 years. ... I can only warn people the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I'm suffering.
Wood thinks that yes, his anger is real. "The synchronicity of his statements with his facial expressions and head movements indicate that he is honestly angry and indignant," she notes.
On the other hand? Cohen may be performing, she says. "There was also a moment here where he asked for a break and he breathed and relaxed and smiled little bit," she says. "That made me realize he thinks he’s doing a really good job, and again, there there is bit of performance."
Wood has some insight into another one of the biggest moments of the hearing — when Cohen said he doesn't know of any "direct evidence" of Russian collusion but "has [his] suspicions."
"Under that one line of questioning Cohen immediately changed his body language and vocal delivery," she says. She points out that Cohen took more than a few pauses and "hemmed and hawed" while looking around, taking on the appearance of someone "not very smart." She thinks it appeared to be an act, due to its lack of spontaneity. "It was clear to me he was actually very smart, well prepared, [and] very careful about his wording," she says. "For example, he was correcting those who questioned him [and was] very particular about certain words like 'collusion.'”
It's an interesting situation to have a witness who is also going to jail for lying while dishing on the president. It just goes to show — nothing is impossible in 2019.