2020 Democrats Fundraise Off Cohen Testimony

Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris
Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris / Getty Images
February 27, 2019

2020 Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) sent supporters fundraising emails Wednesday in the middle of Michael Cohen's congressional testimony.

Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer, testified Wednesday morning and afternoon for several hours in front of the House Oversight Committee.

Once a loyal supporter of Trump's, Cohen has blasted him as a racist, con man and cheater for whom he committed numerous misdeeds, such as paying off a mistress to keep her quiet during the 2016 election. Republicans on the committee have pointed to Cohen's admitted lies to Congress in the past as proof of his duplicity.

In a "petition" email, Warren said Cohen, who in December was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to several charges, had implicated Trump in "criminal activity" but said the largest threat now was the pardon power Trump wielded as the president.

"But here’s the biggest threat right now: Donald Trump, or the next President, using the pardon power to cover up and permanently excuse this wrongdoing," Warren wrote. "So let me be perfectly clear, in the way that everyone who might be president next should be: If I’m elected President of the United States, there will be no pardons for anyone implicated in these investigations."

Warren's email then linked to a petition saying any president who would replace Trump, including Vice President Mike Pence, should adhere to the same promise. A signer of the petition is taken to a page that reads, "Thanks for signing! Now, help Elizabeth keep fighting. Donate now," with several donation amounts to choose from.

Warren swore off big-money fundraisers this week in a Medium post, pledging equal access to any donors to her primary campaign, no matter how small. She acknowledged she would do "what is necessary" to keep up with her Republican opponent if she emerged with the Democratic nomination.

Washington Post reporter Annie Linskey cheekily noted Wednesday that, as Warren's campaign sold t-shirts calling her the "best president money can't buy," she was "fundraising off her lack of fundraising." In another fundraising email, Warren's team wrote, "Out of all of the candidates, Elizabeth’s probably never going to raise the most money."

Harris's campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, sent a more direct fundraising email, writing to ask supporters if they had seen Cohen testify and saying, "If we’re going to correct course and get back on the right track, we need to fight like hell to elect a President who will speak truth."

"I’ll be blunt: we’re not on pace to hit our fundraising goal for February. If we fall short, we’ll be forced to re-think where we place our resources -- and that’s not what I want to be doing in these early months," he wrote. "We can’t do this without you. Can you dig deep and give a contribution to Kamala’s campaign to help us reach this critical goal?"

Warren and Harris are part of an ever-widening Democratic primary field, which added Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) to the ranks last week. As many as 20 Democrats could jump into the race this year in hopes to challenge Trump.