Trump is still look­ing for his new Roy Cohn

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - COMMUNITY - Ti­mothy L. O'Brien is the ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Bloomberg Gad­fly and Bloomberg View. He has been an ed­i­tor and writer for the New York Times, the Wall Street Jour­nal, Huf­fPost and Talk magazine. His books in­clude “TrumpNa­tion: The Art of Be­ing The Don­ald.”

When Don­ald Trump was a young Man­hat­tan real-es­tate de­vel­oper, and ne­go­ti­a­tions with com­peti­tors or part­ners reached an im­passe, he would bran­dish a pho­to­graph of his pit-bull at­tor­ney, Roy Cohn. “Would you rather deal with him?” Trump would ask.

This was Roy Cohn:

So, no, maybe you wouldn’t rather deal with him.

In 1997, 11 years af­ter Cohn’s death, I asked Trump if he ever had wor­ried that as­so­ci­at­ing so closely with a lawyer also em­ployed by mob­sters might tar­nish his own rep­u­ta­tion. Trump brushed off the thought. “You know how many lawyers in New York rep­re­sent or­ga­nized­crime fig­ures?” he asked me (I didn’t know). “Does that mean we’re not sup­posed to use them?”

In 2005, dur­ing an­other of our many con­ver­sa­tions, Trump waxed nos­tal­gic about Cohn. “Roy Cohn was a man that if he liked you, he was an un­be­liev­able, loyal friend,” he al­lowed. “Roy was bru­tal, but he was a very loyal guy. He bru­tal­ized for you.”

Trump has al­ways taken a shine to lawyers, ad­vis­ers, and other em­ploy­ees who bru­tal­ize for him — or at least con­vey to the pres­i­dent they have it in them to bru­tal­ize for him. Thus, Michael Co­hen.

Co­hen, a di­luted suc­ces­sor of sorts to Cohn, has been Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney for more than a decade and has been one of the guys Trump has rou­tinely relied on to wres­tle thorny or po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing mat­ters to the ground. “I’ll do any­thing to pro­tect Mr. Trump,” Co­hen once told Fox News.

Last week, Co­hen was on the re­ceiv­ing end of a search war­rant that fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York ex­e­cuted at his of­fice and ho­tel room. Ac­cord­ing to the New York Times, the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion was look­ing for records in­volv­ing one of Co­hen’s busi­nesses as well as pay­ments to two women who claim to have had sex­ual en­coun­ters with the pres­i­dent. Co­hen has al­ready ac­knowl­edged mak­ing a pay­ment to one of the women.

Trump, who la­beled the Co­hen raid as the lat­est in­stall­ment of bo­gus law en­force­ment “witch hunts” in­tended to en­snare him, has re­cently com­plained that some of the lawyers in his or­bit aren’t up to snuff.

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” he re­port­edly asked when air­ing griev­ances about At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions. He may be say­ing the same of Co­hen now, which wouldn’t be en­tirely fair. Co­hen may not be a Cohn, but he’s also tak­ing his cues from a pres­i­dent wired to play hard­ball and usu­ally ready to bend or break the rules.

And Co­hen’s not the only one who ap­pears to be em­u­lat­ing the pres­i­dent. Just look around.

Scott Pruitt, a lawyer who runs the Environmental Pro­tec­tion Agency, has availed him­self of a cheap condo supplied by a cor­po­rate lob­by­ist while also con­sid­er­ing or ac­tu­ally rack­ing up big, tax­payer-funded ex­penses on things like char­tered air­line flights, first-class travel, a per­sonal se­cu­rity ar­mada, pricey of­fice en­hance­ments, lots of bul­let­proof stuff and big salary bumps for fa­vored aides.

The EPA, ac­cord­ing to the Times, says Pruitt’s se­cu­rity spend­ing is jus­ti­fied be­cause peo­ple post crit­i­cal or threat­en­ing state­ments about him on so­cial me­dia sites.

Maybe Pruitt thinks his spend­ing is also jus­ti­fied be­cause the pres­i­dent and his fam­ily have racked up hefty charges them­selves to have their se­cu­rity de­tails fol­low them around on golf out­ings and trips that mix business with of­fi­cial du­ties. Who knows?

Trump’s cor­po­rate lawyers seem to be tak­ing af­ter Roy Cohn as well.

Ac­cord­ing to the Washington Post, Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion at­tor­neys last month asked Panama’s pres­i­dent to ref­eree a le­gal squab­ble in­volv­ing the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in Panama City — not­ing that the dis­pute could have “reper­cus­sions” for the coun­try if no ac­tion was taken.

As the Post noted, it was “the first known in­stance of the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion ask­ing di­rectly for a for­eign leader’s help with a business dis­pute since Trump was elected.” The let­ter also car­ried the whiff of a threat. Bru­tal.

The White House punted the Post’s ques­tions on the Pana­ma­nian show­down to the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion said the Pana­ma­nian lawyers were act­ing on their own, and is­sued a state­ment on their be­half say­ing that the let­ter was a “com­mon” and “rou­tine” le­gal tac­tic for them.

Trump says he isn’t both­ered by Pruitt’s zeal­ous spend­ing at the EPA. He re­sponded to the Co­hen raids by say­ing that he con­sid­ers a fed­eral probe of pos­si­ble ties be­tween his cam­paign and Rus­sia to be “an attack on our coun­try in a true sense.”

He’s also mus­ing openly about dec­i­mat­ing the ranks of se­nior law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials in­volved with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The White House has said that Trump “cer­tainly has the power” to fire spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

Some­times, if no­body around you can per­fectly chan­nel Roy Cohn, you just have to chan­nel him your­self.

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