In his testimony to the House, former attorney to President Trump Michael Cohen probably inadvertently cleared Trump of one of the “criminal” allegations against him with respect to his payoff of Stormy Daniels:
The idea is that Trump violated campaign finance laws because the payment was illegal because was effectively an unreported campaign donation.
But Cohen made quite clear that the donation was at least arguably done not to advance Trump’s campaign by keeping the affair quiet, but to keep the affair from the first lady.
As writer Marc Thiessen notes:
Well, if Trump didn’t care about winning, that undermines the case that the payments were a campaign finance violation. Indeed, Cohen offered evidence that Trump’s motivation was in fact keeping his affair from his wife. “He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it,” Cohen said. “Lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets. . . . She did not deserve that.” Paying hush money because he did not want his wife to find out he was having an affair with a porn star is sleazy, but it is not a crime.
Cohen also cleared Trump of the charge that he had directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project. Cohen declared that “I lied to Congress” and Trump “did not directly tell me to lie.” Cohen said he assumed Trump wanted him to lie, so he did what he thought Trump wanted. Sorry, that’s not evidence of a crime.
Cohen’s testimony gave Democrats lots of excuses to set out to sea for new fishing expeditions, now that the whole Russia collusion thing is falling apart. But Cohen did not do much direct damage Trump at all.