Though the ratings were sky-high for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s Congressional committee appearance, he wasn’t the only person whose words made an impact. New York’s freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned Cohen about how Trump allegedly deliberatively deflated the value of his assets in order to lower his real estate tax bill. Hers were some of the most direct questions of the entire proceedings, and they may have yielded the most useful answers. Cohen’s responses, including the names of several members of Trump’s inner circle familiar with his financials, ma lay the groundwork for possible subpoenas of his long-withheld tax returns.
Putting aside the complication of calling for winners and losers in a procedural hearing, one reason Ocasio-Cortez won the day is fairly obvious if you’ve been paying attention to how the first-term rep has been running her office. According to HuffPost, the youngest woman to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives can commit more time on her actual job—as HuffPost put it, she “consistently attends even the most mundane committee hearings”—because she doesn’t have to spend time calling donors to fundraise. In the days after the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez even mentioned this specifically, noting that calling constituents, not donors, is among her top priorities.
In the run-up to the Cohen hearing, Ocasio-Cortez’s staffers spent days working closely with the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to draft the questions she ended up asking—with her own expert ad-libbing, of course. Because she was among the last committee members to ask questions during the hearing, she also followed up on questions from other committee members in order to compel Cohen to give direct, useful answers the committee can use in the future.