In his dramatic testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, former Donald Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen made a number of grave accusations against his onetime boss, as The Washington Post reported. Cohen detailed what he described as concrete examples of Trump’s racism against black people, discussed Trump’s alleged advanced knowledge of the Wikileaks dump of Russian-hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign, and also touched on Trump’s deep involvement in illegal payoffs to a pornographic film star to cover up a sexual encounter she had with the president.
But despite the seriousness of Cohen’s testimony, and the frequently acrimonious nature of exchanges between Cohen and Republican members of the committee — and as Politico reported, on at least one occasion between committee members themselves — the hearing was not without humor.
Humor, that is, in the eyes of Twitter users, who took one notable exchange between Cohen and Democratic California Representative Jackie Speier, and turned a short video clip of the exchange into an overnight viral meme.
That exchange came when Cohen, who spoke in the hearing of his regrets over unethical or illegal acts he had committed on Trump’s behalf, was asked by Speier how often Trump has asked him to “threaten” someone whom Trump wanted to silence or neutralize. Watch that exchange in the video below.
The back-and-forth, with Speier listing ever-escalating numbers and Cohen responding “more” until the number reached “500,” was shared in excerpts on Twitter, and paired with any number of questions concocted by Twitter users. See a selection of those Twitter memes below.
— Lamar Dawson (@dirrtykingofpop) February 27, 2019
“How many times have you dreamed of Trump’s impeachment since he was elected?”
— Kate Beckman (@Kate_Beckman) February 27, 2019
“how many times have you rewatched the west wing?” pic.twitter.com/CPI89MEj44
— out of context west wing (@nocontxtww) February 27, 2019
At one point, Daily Show host Trevor Noah pitched in with his own contribution.
"How many times did you watch Black Panther before you realized Trevor Noah was the voice of the computer?" pic.twitter.com/vqB9UwFl9I
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 27, 2019
Another Twitter user imagined Cohen as a Houston Astros fan.
“How many times have you watched the final out of the 2017 World Series?”
— Stros Bros (@StrosBros1) February 28, 2019
Other videos depicted a more realistic scenario, given that Cohen’s hometown is New York City, portraying him as a Yankees or Mets fan.
“How many times did the Mets let you down last season?”
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) February 27, 2019
If you combine the totals, how many times will Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton strike out this season? pic.twitter.com/Dl3k5FzWSK
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) February 28, 2019
Cohen was even imagined as a fan of English Premier League soccer champions Manchester City, or one of that club’s rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
How many times does Guardiola’s Man City pass the ball around every game? pic.twitter.com/MElUIKIdxo
— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 28, 2019
How many times have Tottenham Hotspur ruined your week? pic.twitter.com/dtt0F3V3SJ
— Tim (@CookPassTim) February 28, 2019
Speier — who has served in the House since 2008 when, as The San Francisco Chronicle recounted, she won a special election to replace the deceased Tom Lantos — did not ask Cohen to get specific and list any of the 500 examples of threats he made on Trump’s behalf.
But as Vox.com reported, Cohen himself provided at least one example. He described a letter he sent in 2015 to New York’s Fordham University, which Trump attended as an undergraduate from 1964 to 1966. In the letter, sent at Trump’s insistence, Cohen said, he threatened legal action against the school if it released Trump’s academic record without permission.
Fordham later confirmed, per The Hill, that the university had indeed received the threatening letter from Cohen.