On CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday, the hosts of the show, apparently convinced that President Trump is intimidating his former attorney Michael Cohen into eschewing testifying against him, likened Trump to Mafia kingpin Michael Corleone in the film “The Godfather Part II” by playing a clip from the film showing Corleone intimidating a witness against him at a congressional hearing by having summoned the witness’ brother to the hearing.
As Newsbusters reports, here is how the exchange on “New Day” went:
CNN host John Berman: You know what this reminds me of? I didn’t go to law school, but I did see Godfather II.
CNN host Avlon: I knew you were going there!
Berman: Because you’re saying you don’t specifically say I’m going to hurt the father-in-law —
CNN host Alisyn Camerota: You say it would sure be bad if the father-in-law got hurt.
Berman: Or you just put the person in the audience like they did with Frankie Pentangeli’s brother. Watch this.
The clip from the film followed, with the following dialogue from the hearing:
U.S senator: Would you kindly identify for the committee the gentleman sitting to your left?
Tom Hagen, (Michael Corleone’s counselor): I can answer that. His name is Vincenzo Pentangeli.
Senator: Is he related to the witness?
Hagen: He is, I believe, his brother.
Berman chimed in, “All you do is you show the family member, you show that there might be a threat.”
Referencing the fact that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani have mentioned Michael Cohen’s wife and father-in-law, Avlon made the Mafia-Trump comparison explicit, saying, “I think what’s happening between the President and Rudy invoking the father-in-law and the wife goes well beyond problematic. At least from a historic precedent standpoint, there is none. What the President of the United States and his lawyer are basically doing is saying, ‘Nice family you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to them.’”
The claims that President Trump was attempting to intimidate Cohen started because of successive tweets in early December in which President Trump tweeted, “’Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.’ You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”
Last Friday, Trump tweeted, “Kevin Corke, @FoxNews ‘Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….’ Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!”
Giuliani has suggested that Cohen’s father-in-law had ties to organized crime in the Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, said Cohen would not testify before Congress next month, saying, “Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and [Rudolph] Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date … This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first.”
Trump responded to the news by asserting, “I would say he’s been threatened by the truth. He’s only been threatened by the truth.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ranking GOP member of the Oversight Committee, dismissed the accusations that Trump had intimidated a witness, saying, “Everyone knows it wasn’t witness intimidation — c’mon.” He said of Cohen, “If he comes, we’ll be ready. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t.”
Video below, courtesy of Newsbusters: