Day of reckoning?

For political junkies, today is must-see TV.

First up this morning, U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, will publicly testify before a congressional committee. What kind of juicy, tawdry tales does he have to tell about being Trump's fixer and does he have emails, texts, recordings of phone calls, etc. to prove it?

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Based on the smear campaign launched by Team Trump ever since Cohen turned on Trump in an effort to reduce his prison term for lying to Congress in 2017, there's plenty of anxiety about what Cohen might have. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders stuck to the theme Tuesday, referring to Cohen as a "convicted liar."

For everyone in Trump World, from The Donald on down, the single question has always been: why lie if you've done nothing wrong? Donald Trump Jr. can insist all he likes that these aren't "actual crimes" but Cohen, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and more Trump associates are going to "actual" jail because lying to the FBI, lying to Congress and lying to a special prosecutor are "actual crimes."

And that's just today's warmup act.

This afternoon, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada's former federal justice minister, will give her perspective on the SNC-Lavalin controversy before the House of Commons justice committee, starting with a 30-minute opening statement before questions.

The Vancouver MP will be able to speak her mind after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lifted the gag order on solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality on Monday. This will be her first public statement since stories early this month suggested she was pressured to tap the brakes on prosecuting SNC-Lavalin, a major Quebec engineering firm.

Trudeau said Tuesday's he's looking forward to hearing "Ms. Wilson-Raybould's perspective," a noticeable improvement in tone from when Trudeau simply referred to her as "Jody" while bumbling his way through a variety of non-responses about the whole mess.

There are obvious differences between these two affairs.

Cohen was once one of Trump's most trusted henchmen, sent in to work out confidentiality deals with women who accused Trump of improper behaviour and threaten to sue everyone else. Now the president's supporters see him as simply a traitor peddling garbage to discredit Trump.

Either way, he's off to jail and Trump himself could be in the legal crosshairs.

Wilson-Raybould, however, remains a Liberal MP in good standing, as does the prime minister. The illegal conduct was committed by SNC-Lavalin, through bribes and fraud over a period of years to gain business in Libya.

Even if Trudeau directly or indirectly pressured Wilson-Raybould to cut a side deal and avoid an embarrassing criminal prosecution that would all but destroy the company, that abuse of power is nowhere near as filthy and greasy as the Cohen/Trump soap opera.

It's the similarities between the two, however, that have political wags salivating with anticipation.

Along with the prospect of coverups and backroom deals to protect the rich and powerful, the personal and political dirt Cohen and Wilson-Raybould could have on Trump and Trudeau, as well as the people around them, may figure in the Canadian federal election this fall and the American campaign next fall.

Some have called it a day of reckoning for both national leaders, but neither man really has anything to worry about.

While there are numerous differences between Trump and Trudeau, they both wield an arrogance in their intelligence and political acumen that far exceeds reality and have built a mechanism to support the narrative that their respective countries couldn't be great without their steady hand at the wheel.

Whatever Cohen's revelations are today would have politically crippled a previous president, but it won't loosen the stranglehold Trump has on the Republican party and Republicans in Congress one bit. Whatever Wilson-Raybould's revelations are today might embarrass Trudeau and will almost certainly incite the leaders of the Conservatives and the NDP to call for a full inquiry or the prime minister's resignation but he will continue unscathed, his grip on the federal Liberals firmly in place.

There is only one true day of reckoning ahead for Trump. It's on Nov. 3, 2020.

There is only one true day of reckoning ahead for Trudeau. It's on Oct. 21 of this year.

The voters will decide on those days.

Everything before then is just noisy details but it still makes for riveting, popcorn-munching entertainment.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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