It isn’t hard to imagine Donald Trump as the kind of guy who would dump even his friends — or a wife or two — if they started to displease him or became problematic in some way. We’ve seen at least the after-the-fact evidence of such interactions and heard from those on the dumping end of them.
What seems inconceivable, when you think about it, is that Trump would risk turning his back on someone with whom he committed crimes together. That honestly seems like a chance Donald would not take willingly, when he could instead buy or coerce their silence, sue them, or better yet, just keep doing crimes with them.
And yet that’s exactly what Trump did to his former mentor, Roy Cohn.
Now, this is the part where I explicitly ask you not to sympathize with Roy Cohn just because he’s a victim of Trump’s — Cohn was a horrible person who lived a life filled with horrible deeds and if there’s a Hell at all, Roy might even be a personal lawyer to Satan himself.
ALL of that is made infinitely worse by knowing that Trump first retained Mr. Cohn to defend himself against charges of housing discrimination, a case that Cohn took eagerly (they settled without admitting guilt), and then was so impressed by Joe McCarthy’s former “witch hunt” lawyer that he took him on as sort of a spiritual guide — a co-author in the biography of Trump.
Trump has talked Roy Cohn a few times since he became President, wistfully invoking the specter of Cohn’s truth-be-damned legal style, lamenting “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” when the Mueller investigation began, perhaps wishing he had more of a bulldog than the almost literal Chihuahua he had in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused and cowering in his dog house.
But don’t let Trump’s yearning for someone to do his dirty work fool you: After decades of friendship with Roy Cohn, years under the legendary attorney’s wing, Trump “dropped him like a hot potato,” according to Cohn’s former secretary Susan Bell. The reason?
Cohn was dying of AIDS. He had been a not-quite-closeted gay man, and it was much easier for Trump to ignore the rumors before Cohn contracted what at the time of his death — 1986, the year after AIDS was given a face with the death of Rock Hudson — was essentially considered a gay man’s disease.
Again, let me not paint Roy Cohn as a hero, victim, antihero, or anything other than the guy who sent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair and taught Trump to be a heartless villain. But in the time of his mentor’s greatest vulnerability, after decades of friendship, Trump turned his back on basically his best friend.
Years later, he still invokes the parts of Roy he wishes were around for him, proving that it was never really a friendship at all.
Featured image via screen capture
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