What aspect of his disgusting life is most dangerous as the president-elect prepares to assume the reins of government?
Quite possibly the degree of influence Roy Cohn had in shaping who and what he is.
Most of the ardent Trump voters I know weren’t around when Cohn was, as one journalist put it, “the lurking legal hit man for red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy, whose reign of televised intimidation in the 1950s has become synonymous with demagoguery, fear-mongering and character assassination.”
The Pussy-Grabber was just another rich brat from Queens when he met Roy Cohn at a trendy night club in Manhattan. But Cohn had used his association with McCarthy as a springboard to wealth and influence. He was the most powerful lawyer in New York, a staple of the gossip columns, counsel to mafiosi, financiers and the New York Yankees.
Young Donald needed a good lawyer in 1973 because the Justice Department had accused him of violating the Fair Housing Act by barring people of color from 39 of the buildings he operated in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. He hired Cohn who counter-sued the government for $100 million. Lesson No. 1 for the young Pussy-Grabber: always attack. “If you needed someone to get vicious toward an opponent,” Donald told an interviewer in 1979, “you got Roy. He has been vicious to others in his protection of me.”
Cohn used his underworld and overworld connections to get zoning variances, tax abatements and other sleazy deals for concrete work critical to the construction of his Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Trump Plaza in Manhattan. Donald thanked him with the gift of diamond-encrusted cufflinks in a box from Bulgari, the high-priced Italian jewelry firm. A mutual friend said, “Roy became Donald’s mentor, his constant adviser on every significant aspect of his business and personal life.”
What sort of man was this mentor, this adviser on every aspect of life? He and McCarthy destroyed the lives and careers of hundreds of government professionals like Owen Latimore and Val Lorwin, of artists and writers like Dalton Trumbo and Pete Seeger, but this was just the beginning for Cohn. He and McCarthy alleged that closeted homosexuals employed by the federal government had passed government secrets to the Soviets in exchange for keeping the identity of their sexuality a secret.
Convinced that the employment of homosexuals was now a threat to national security, President Dwight Eisenhower signed an executive order on April 29, 1953 to ban homosexuals from obtaining jobs in the federal government. The irony in this is that Cohn himself was a homosexual. He in turn gave to a lover, Peter Fraser, the Bulgari diamond cufflinks he’d received from Donald.
Cohn hosted lavish parties for the gay community in Provincetown, MA, on Cape Cod. Many of these were like precursors of Trump campaign rallies, with ostentatious displays of faux patriotism. An ex-lover of Cohn recalled, “he'd haul people to their feet to sing "God Bless America," evidently his favorite song.Roy's idea of a good time was to sing patriotic ditties at a piano bar in Provincetown. One night Roy sang three choruses of ‘God Bless America,’ got a hard-on and went home to bed.”
At the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, Cohn’s testimony included a story of Joe McCarthy as a World War II tail-gunner that was so compelling that afterward, a teary-eyed old lady approached him and said, “ "Oh, Mr. Cohn, your tribute to the senator was wonderful. It meant so much to me." A friend who was there said, “Cohn turned to me--although she was standing right there--with that cold look he had. ‘I almost believed it myself.’ She looked like she had been hit with a whip, and l said to him: ‘You dirty SOB.’”
Cohn was disbarred from the practice of law in 1986 for “unethical, unprofessional and particularly reprehensible” conduct. Shortly thereafter he died if AIDS. All of his earthly possessions — a Manhattan town house, a country estate in Greenwich, Conn., a Rolls-Royce, a private plane — went to Peter Fraser, his last lover. The IRS, collecting Cohn’s unpaid tax debts, confiscated all of this.
Fraser kept the Bulgari cufflinks the Pussy-Grabber had given to Cohn. When he had them appraised, he learned that they were cheap knockoffs.