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Ricardo Bellino. District Court. Like the other developers on hand, Trump had sought and won favors from some of the older, more powerful Democrats who were present. Intriguingly, this 60 Minutes segment cannot be found on YouTube, while a tougher, if tardy, Mike Wallace profile, made as Cohn was dying seven years later, can be.
They had plenty of provocation and opportunities to do so. Trump practiced bigotry on a grand scale, was a world-class liar, and ripped off customers, investors, and the city itself. As with Cohn before him, the more outrageously and reprehensibly Trump behaved, the more the top rungs of society were titillated by him.
It was Democrats in New York who taught both Cohn and Trump that they could buy off politicians and try to get away with anything. Trump grew up with a father who had been intertwined with the Brooklyn Democratic machine while building his residential-real-estate empire.
By the time the clubhouse hack Beame arrived in City Hall in after the reform mayoralty of John Lindsay, Fred Trump had known him for 30 years. And so he did. Stein would years later plead guilty to un-Trump-related tax evasion. Trump would also give to among others Schumer, Eliot Spitzer, and Andrew Cuomo, who took Trump as a client even as his father was governor and Trump was conniving to develop the West Side yards and build a domed football stadium in Queens.
Unlike Trump, Cohn had no interest in building anything.
Ultimate Guide from Two Working Producers
He wanted to tear down institutions and people for fun and profit. This coterie either looked the other way or gave Cohn cover during transgression after transgression, some of them proto-Trump financial flimflams in which he looted banks or companies; others involving unpaid bills to creditors as varied as the IRS, Dunhill Tailors, and a local locksmith; still others more sensational. In the s, a Florida court ruled that Cohn had pushed an elderly friend in mental decline, Lewis Rosenstiel, the founder of the Schenley liquor empire, into signing a will that made Cohn a trustee of his estate.
It was in , the year he met Trump, that perhaps the most sinister of the Cohn horror stories of his post-McCarthy career unfolded.
The Original Donald Trump
A yacht leased by a shell company Cohn controlled was sent to sea despite having been judged in dire disrepair by its previous captain. A suspicious fire broke out, the yacht sank, a crew member died, and Cohn collected both legal fees and a back-channel insurance payout. But until then he was often protected by the press. Through a fluke, he had friendships dating back to childhood with Generoso Pope Jr. Before he joined McCarthy in Washington, the young Cohn had been an acolyte of and tipster for the mighty Hearst gossip columnist Walter Winchell, who demonstrated by example how the press could be enlisted into the Favor Bank of the powerful.
If you engaged in amateur analysis, you might say that Roy Cohn was the kid on the block that all the bullies beat up on. And so, when Roy Marcus Cohn was growing up, he was determined to get rich, and get even, and he has. Magazines, New York prominent among them , grabbed the commercial rewards of exploiting his latest stunts as glossily as possible. The most powerful news organizations and media barons often let Trump have his way.
Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks.
None of this was remotely true, but the sexy brew of hyperbole and outright fantasy, having been certified by the paper of record, set the tone for much that was to come. Along the way, Trump continued to inflate his net worth. He was so obsessed with the Forbes annual list ranking the wealthiest Americans that he had Cohn muscle the magazine to fix it, a tale recently recounted in full by a former Forbes staffer, Jonathan Greenberg, in the Washington Post. One of the most memorable examples occurred on Sunday, November 17, — the same day that Trump was the subject of his own first Mike Wallace 60 Minutes profile.
Trump, however, had distanced himself from his dying mentor, for a while dropping him altogether. But much of the similarly embarrassing history of media collusion with Trump has been either forgotten or whitewashed. Not only was his history with Cohn omitted but, more pertinently in , so was his considerable role in transforming Trump from a local celebrity into a national figure.
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At the time the book was published, in , Trump was so vaguely known outside of the tri-state area that publishing insiders worried whether Random House would get back its investment. The press ate it up. D uring his campaign, Trump made a cause out of the corruption intrinsic to pay-for-play political donations like those he used to give. When I call, they kiss my ass. You know why? She had no choice, because I gave. And that he had given Bill Clinton, whom he met with to discuss fund-raising as far back as , free access to his northern-Westchester club, Trump National, and on occasion played golf with him there.
Bill happened to be speaking in the area that weekend, so we decided to go. Why not? I thought it would be a fun, gaudy, over-the-top spectacle, and I was right. Even so, everything else about this breezy and disingenuous paragraph epitomizes the honor-among-celebrities ethos of the bipartisan New York Establishment that helped Trump get where he was by None of it was secret. The Clintons may have even encountered the news, as did most Americans, that Ivana Trump had accused her husband of rape in a sworn divorce deposition uncovered by Harry Hurt III for his Trump biography. In the bipartisan New York political culture that nurtured Cohn and Trump, the statute of limitations for nearly every crime or outrage lasts about 48 hours.
Nothing sticks; even repeated racist bygones can be bygones. Whatever the explanation, the then—New York senator, sitting in a reserved seat in the front row, lent a touch of civic legitimacy to Trump that the other glitzy celebrities on hand could not. He had written his checks knowing that the Clintons could be counted on not to bite the small hand that fed them — at least not until their own self-interest was threatened in Weinstein was further protected by his contributions to Democrats, led by those to the Clintons.
Everyone in New York who had professional dealings with him knew he was a pig and a bully, much as they knew about Trump. But the parties, screenings, and star schmoozing were too much fun for Democratic politicians to resist. Who owes me favors? Murrow special that helped rid America of Joe McCarthy.
Some of the rich, connected, and powerful New Yorkers who failed to stand up to Trump before it was too late tried to cover their tracks once the music stopped and he had won the Republican nomination for president.
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