During the first break in Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday, NBC’s panel of anchors, reporters and legal analysts all celebrated his performance. “Michael Cohen has comported himself pretty well,” NBC’s Chuck Todd asserted at the beginning of the roughly 10 minute conversation that began at roughly 12:10pm ET.
NBC News legal analyst Maya Wiley concurred: “He made sure that he was being very careful in his answers, to stay accurate, to demonstrate that he was going to be forthcoming,” adding that she thought Cohen had done “a great job” when it came to “accuracy.”
MSNBC’s Ari Melber, who hosts the cable network’s 6pm ET hour, praised Cohen as “most effective” when it came to talking about the penalties he was accepting: “He said, ‘I’m paying for this, I’m leaving my family, I’m going to prison for years,’ one of the heavier sentences of a cooperating witness in any of these probes in this era. And so with that on his back, he said, ‘but now I’m here to tell the truth.’”
Another NBC News legal analyst, former prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg, touted Cohen as “the quintessential cooperating criminal....He knows what he knows, he’s telling it, I believe, truthfully....This is what cooperating witnesses look like, sound like, and feel like.”
While the panel admitted Cohen had severe credibility problems based on his conviction for previously lying to Congress, there was no dissent from the view that he was telling an honest story today.
Here’s video of some of the key moments in NBC’s coverage, followed by a somewhat longer transcript of the points made by NBC’s experts (you’ll need click “expand” to read the whole thing).
CHUCK TODD: Michael Cohen has comported himself pretty well. He seems to be well prepared. He’s never lost his cool. And I say this as somebody who’s been on the receiving end of him losing him cool, so I think some of us are watching to see how is he going to handle this nonstop basically -- they’re trying to get him to lose his cool.
NBC News legal analyst MAYA WILEY: They’re trying to get him to. I think he started a little defensive. He was a little bit combative. Not in a way that damaged, I think, his credibility generally to those who are open-minded, but I think he warmed to it in the sense that he made sure that he was being very careful in his answers, to stay accurate, to demonstrate that he was going to be forthcoming. ... I think he did a great job of being well prepared both at accuracy, at least in what we’ve heard, as well as making sure he could make that point [that he’s accepting responsibility].
CHUCK TODD: He’s been careful, when somebody has gone too far in claiming what he’s said, he’s corrected them, “no, no, no, no, no, I didn’t say that, I said X,” that I thought has certainly helped -- it helped me with his credibility.
MSNBC host ARI MELBER: I thought he was most effective when he said something anyone can relate to, even if you judge him harshly. He said, ‘I’m paying for this, I’m leaving my family, I’m going to prison for years,’ one of the heavier sentences of a cooperating witness in any of these probes in this era. And so with that on his back, he said, ‘but now I’m here to tell the truth.’ And the question is, did the evidence and the truth as alleged he provided, did that move people?
NBC News legal analyst CHUCK ROSENBERG: He is the quintessential cooperating criminal. This is what we see in courtrooms throughout America every single day. He knows what he knows, he’s telling it, I believe, truthfully. But it has to be corroborated. The documents he produced are helpful, they’re not dispositive, but this is what cooperating witnesses look like, sound like, and feel like. And I think the folks who are watching him today get a sense of what prosecutors do in federal courtrooms around the country.