Reflecting On Roy Cohn's Impact, Can Trump Survive Without A Lawyer To Lean On?

Reflecting On Roy Cohn's Impact, Can Trump Survive Without A Lawyer To Lean On?

The influence Cohn had on an impressionable Trump was profound.

Before I began conducting research for an upcoming presentation, I (nor, notably, anyone I asked who had lived through the era) had never heard of The Lavender Scare. An offshoot of the infamous Red Scare, the Lavender Scare was a witch-hunt conducted to rid the government and military of any confirmed or suspected homosexual individuals. The basis for this decision was rooted in American prejudice and exacerbated by Joe McCarthy and, more notably, Roy Cohn. Throughout my readings, Cohn has stuck out as a walking contradiction, for, despite persecuting and enhancing bias towards homosexual civil servants, Cohn himself was gay (or, according to Roger Stone, “not gay… He was a man who liked having sex with men").

One of the most iconic images from the McCarthy-Army anti-communist hearings that took place during the Red Scare.

Cohn is an interesting historical figure to look at for a variety of reasons, but in the wake of recent political developments, his relationship with President Donald Trump has become a prevalent and necessary discussion. Described frequently and accurately as a “pit -bull lawyer” in reference to his work ethic, Cohn is remembered for his scorched earth legal tactics and the aggression he showed when met with opposition. Cohn served as Trump’s personal attorney back when he was first trying to get his bearings as a real-estate developer throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s.

Cohn and Trump in 1983. They met a decade earlier in 1973 and Trump immediately glorified his lawyer, mentor, and friend.

Trump became fixated on his "personal lawyer and fixer," calling him 15 to 20 times a day and adopting many of the mannerisms we see in him today: as Nathan Lane, who plays Cohn in the West End and Broadway revamps of “Angels in America,” states: “what [Trump] learned from Roy Cohn is… you know, it’s always 'go on the attack, the counter-attack'. Hit the accuser ten times harder, and deflect, and never admit defeat, and certainly- and there’s out-and-out lying when all else fails.” The influence Cohn had on an impressionable Trump was profound, and he served for over 10 years as something of a domineering yet incredibly protective father figure mixed with a stereotypical pageant mother. Despite the well-documented relationship, however, Trump has not only denied Cohn’s role as a mentor following his death in 1986, but began to distance himself from Cohn when he was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1984.

Cohn four months before his death from AIDS-related complications in 1984.

The odd and dramatic shift from near co-dependence to absolute isolation is only made more complex by Trump recent exclamation, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”, following the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation. However, Trump’s commentary and reactions in light of the scandal that has unfolded within the past two weeks regarding his attorney Michael Cohen and how he has conducted legal affairs for Trump might offer up an explanation as for why Trump now desperately longs for Cohn again.

After comparing this image with the one above (alternatively: pre- and post-AIDS), it is easy to see the physical decline Cohn experienced which Trump probably likened to a decrease in aggression and brutality.

As I mentioned, Cohn knew he was dying beginning around 1984 and, while he participated in trials for the anti-HIV drug AZT, he grew increasingly sicker. Despite swearing to everyone that he was dying of liver cancer, “Cohn believed Trump had cut him off because he was HIV-positive” (Washington Post). (For the sake of the argument, I’ve decided to bar the idea that Trump may have cut out Cohn after discovering his disease was AIDS-related and Cohn’s sexual orientation as there is evidence Trump knew and did not care that Cohn was gay.) Cohn’s diagnosis must have appeared to Trump as though his bully of a lawyer was thereby compromised or weakened by disease. Trump, like Cohn, needs aggressive dominance to feel like they were in control.

Oddly, or maybe unsurprisingly to some, the Google search phrase "Trump with Michael Cohen" only yields two pictures with the men actually seen together, this being one of them.

Similarly, Trump has referred to Michael Cohen as his attorney as well as his pit bull (exactly the terms Trump previously used to refer to Cohn). Over the course of the past week, Trump has gone from calling Cohen his attorney to just one of his many attorneys. The shift, prompted by the FBI raids of Cohen’s law office, home, and hotel room, is due to how the president no longer sees Cohen as possessing the strength and prowess he once held.

Trump and Cohn in 1984.

While both Cohn and Cohen are controversial figures, both in their legal actions and personal ethics, the treatment of both of his “pit-bull” lawyers after they stopped serving him as such shows an incredible amount about Trump’s psyche: rather than run the risk of losing a fight, Trump would rather lose a limb; the reliance he rests on his legal team is incredible, and the swiftness with which he cuts out any weak link is unbelievable. It is worth asking, would Trump have become the aggressively defensive and arguably codependent without Cohn's influence during Trump's impressionable years? Moreover, after comparing Cohen to Cohn, can Trump survive without a lawyer to lean on?

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.

Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.


A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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