Steve Hilton: Michael Cohen should apologize, pay back his swamp fees and tell us who else he pitched

I have been consistently critical of the anti-Trump establishment’s obsession with Russia, Stormy Daniels, and all the nonsense that is peddled nonstop to detract from President Trump’s growing tally of substantive achievements at home and abroad.

I have consistently condemned the Russia probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. I’ve also condemned the deeply troubling efforts of Deep State bureaucrats like fired FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to destabilize the duly elected president of the United States and remove him from office through undemocratic means.

Just last week I described all this as a political counterrevolution by the elite that undermines democracy and the rule of law. And I have put the sleazy efforts of Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, in the same rotten category.

But here’s something else I’ve been consistent on for years: my total contempt for the corrupt, pay-to-play business model of the Washington Swamp, where Big Business bribes and lobbies Big Government to get its way – benefiting the rich, powerful and well-connected at the expense of working Americans.

Donald Trump made that exact same argument in his election campaign and it’s one of the main reasons he won.

Did Cohen even listen to what Donald Trump was saying on the campaign trail? Trump said he was going to be the voice for the voiceless – not the business elite. What part of Drain the Swamp did Cohen not understand?

Voters could see that politics in America was corrupt to its core. They thought that an outsider billionaire – who had no need to depend on armies of big donors and corporate insiders – was the right person to shake things up and put the American people first, after their needs had been forgotten for so long.

It was all captured in one phrase that came to define the 2016 campaign’s epic battle between the populist insurgent and the corrupt Clinton machine and all it represented: Drain the Swamp!

Contrary to what his critics would have you believe, since his inauguration President Trump has delivered on many of his Drain the Swamp promises, including tough new rules on lobbying.

And don’t forget one of the most overlooked aspects of draining the swamp: the dramatic cut in government regulations. The more regulations there are, the more scope there is for big corporations with the right connections to shape them to their ends.

But there is much, much more to do. As we report every week on SwampWatch, the basic, corrupt business of Congress goes on uninterrupted. Members of Congress raise money from the very same corporations that are directly affected by the committees they sit on.

Lobbyists crawl all over the legislative process. The revolving door between Congress, lobbying and the corporate world is spinning as fast as ever. And all of this, remember, is a thoroughly bipartisan swamp.

There’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this – although perhaps Democrats are more hypocritical about it with their endless sanctimonious lectures about the “corrosive influence of money in politics.” All while they pocket the cash, of course.

And that brings us to this week’s news about Michael Cohen, President Trump’s one-time “fixer.” Cohen was reported this week to have touted himself to a number of giant global corporations as someone who could give them an inside track with the new Trump administration.

Among those giant corporations were AT&T, which paid Cohen $600,000 to help in its bid to buy Time Warner – a bid that candidate Trump strongly condemned on the campaign trail; and Swiss drug giant Novartis, which paid Cohen $1.2 million as a “consultant” – presumably to help the company avoid the clampdown on high drug prices that Trump had pledged.

Let’s ignore for a moment the truly staggering hypocrisy of AT&T’s swampy CEO, Randall Stephenson, who tried to deflect blame for the scandal by throwing his chief Washington lobbyist, Bob Quinn, under the bus. Stephenson described the decision to hire Cohen as a “big mistake” and announced that Quinn would be retiring immediately.

What a joke. AT&T spends millions on exactly this kind of lobbying and influence-buying all the time. The company is just embarrassed because it was caught.

But the real damage here is not to the reputation of AT&T or Novartis – it’s to President Trump and his entire Drain the Swamp crusade.

According to both AT&T and Novartis, Cohen was going around pitching himself as a conduit to the incoming Trump administration.

AT&T released a memo that stated: “Michael Cohen approached our External Affairs organization during the post-election transition period and said he was going to leave the Trump Organization and do consulting for a select few companies that wanted his opinion on the new President and his administration – the key players, their priorities and how they think.”

Isn’t that exactly what’s wrong with America? Big corporations get the inside track while everyone else just has to put up with whatever government throws at them?

What about all the small businesses in America, the self-employed, the struggling forgotten men and women? Who is their consultant? Where is their inside track?

Did Cohen even listen to what Donald Trump was saying on the campaign trail? Trump said he was going to be the voice for the voiceless – not the business elite. What part of Drain the Swamp did Cohen not understand?

By cashing in on his connection to the president to help giant global corporations, Cohen insulted every single Trump voter.

Saying this plainly is not being disloyal to President Trump. In fact, it would be disloyal to not point it out. It is Cohen who has been disloyal to the president, by betraying and embarrassing him and undermining one of his most important promises to the American people.

Here’s what needs to happen: Cohen must apologize, pay back his swamp fees and tell us who else he pitched his services to. We need to see the full list of the “select few companies” he reportedly offered to help.

There’s still time to save the Drain the Swamp agenda, which is such a vital part of the populist revolution. But first there has to be a proper reckoning for the damage Cohen has done with his cynical, shameless behavior.

We’ll be debating all this with my guests, including Dana Perino, this Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on “The Next Revolution” on Fox News Channel – hope you can join us!