Metro professors sound off about Cohen hearings, question former Trump attorney’s credibility

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The buzz from the nation's capital was deafening on Wednesday.

The Congressional hearings involving Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, were trending on social media all day.

FOX4 sought unbiased observations from two political science professors in the Kansas City metro, both of whom were pinned to the proceedings all afternoon.

Cohen has broken a number of laws, including lying before Congress. He's admitted to that much. His Wednesday testimony caught the ears of a pair of political science professors in the metro, including Dr. Beth Vonnahme at UMKC, who said this hearing with Cohen, Trump's former fixer, is significant in the way the Benghazi hearings or Iran-Contra sessions were in the past.

"Cohen isn't popular with Democrats or Republicans," Vonnahme said.

Vonnahme, who leads UMKC's political science department, observed that party lines are being towed strongly. Republicans spent much of Wednesday's meeting seeking to discredit Cohen's testimony.

Vonnahme said she spotted no big surprises on Wednesday, but since there are credibility issues with Cohen as a witness, she believes he and his legal team need more evidence to make a true impression on the House Oversight Committee.

"Cohen is good at deflecting that annoyance. He doesn't get flustered. He turns it back on them," Vonnahme said.

"The payoffs to Stormy Daniels. It would be really great if the check said in the memo line, 'Payoff to Stormy Daniels.' That would be perfectly clear then. I don't think there's going to be evidence like that. If there were that kind of evidence, it would be with the Mueller investigation, and he'd have already charged Trump at this point."

Dr. Matt Harris, an assistant professor of political science at Park University, said he's concerned with Cohen's motives for speaking to Congress. Cohen is already headed for a prison stay, having been sentenced to a three-year term back in December. Harris wondered how much of his testimony is spite as opposed to substance.

"There's some credibility issues with him as a witness. I think we're all waiting for the Mueller Report. Although, even then, because the Justice Department's policy is not to indict a sitting president, you're probably still going to wait on a political answer," Harris told FOX4.

Both professors agree it's unlikely Cohen's testimony will change anyone`s outlook in the court of public opinion. In short, those who supported Trump before these hearings will likely continue to. The same goes for those who oppose the president. Vonnahme and Harris also agree that it's unlikely Cohen`s words alone will lead to any actions against the president.

A release date for the Mueller Report remains unclear. Reports from last week indicated another delay in releasing findings in the Russia Probe. Both of the professors interviewed by FOX4 delivered their observations with the understanding that their personal political views would not influence their answers to our questions.

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