ECLECTIC RANT:Roy Cohn, a Trump Mentor

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 25, 2019 - 03:53:00 PM

President Donald Trump once asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was, of course, referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s, a lawyer for mob bosses, who died in 1986 five weeks after being disbarred. By all accounts, Roy Cohn was a despicable human being and an unscrupulous but effective lawyer. 

His relationship with Trump began when he defended him and his father for violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Trumps systematically discriminated against African Americans in the renting of their units. The Trumps were about to admit defeat, when they hired Cohn, who filed a countersuit. In 1975, the Trumps settled out of court without having to make an admission of guilt. 

What did Trump learn from Cohn? Never admit guilt, and when caught in a lie, just tell another lie, and to keep changing your story but never admit that you changed your story. Trump was a good student; according to WAPO, Trump has told 13,435 lies and counting while in office and to my knowledge never admitted to telling a lie. 

I’m dating myself, but I remember coming home from high school and turning on the Army-McCarthy hearings. McCarthy constantly interrupted with irrelevant questions and asides; yelled “point of order” whenever testimony was not to his liking. I remember, “point of order” became a familiar joke. Point of Order was also the title of a 1964 documentary consisting of a compilation of TV footage of the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. And, of course, who can forget the Hollywood blacklist

Trump did stock his cabinet, advisers, family members and personal attorneys with assorted swamp-like creatures, but alas no Roy Cohn was available. Maybe Attorney General William Barr is the new Roy Cohn. 

In June 1954, Army counsel Joseph Welch famously told McCarthy after McCarthy brought up the details of a young lawyer’s past membership in a left-wing professional association accused of communism, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Will we soon have such a moment in this disastrous Trump presidency? 

A new documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn recently opened. While the documentary is getting favorable reviews, I will pass. There are already enough living examples of morally and ethically challenged low-lifes on view every time I turn on the TV or read the daily news.