President Donald Trump has not been shy about expressing his admiration for his attorney and political fixer Roy Cohn, who was 59 when he died of AIDS-related causes in 1986 and went down in history as one of the vilest 20th Century figures in U.S. politics. Trump considers Cohn a mentor and an inspiration, and he may have found his 2019 version of Cohn in Attorney General William Barr: Cohn was a top fixer in business and right-wing politics in his day, and Barr served as a fixer for Trump when he offered a vigorous defense of the president during a morning press conference on Thursday (the day Barr officially released a redacted version of the final report for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation).
Cohn, born in New York City in 1927, achieved infamy as Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel during the Red Scare in the early 1950s. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican, conducted a ruthless anti-communist witch hunt—and he did so with Cohn’s help and guidance. Enthusiastically encouraged by Cohn, McCarthy believed in a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach when it came to alleged communist connections in the government.
Cohn was also a key figure in the Lavender Scare, an anti-gay campaign of the 1950s. Gays, according to Cohn, posed a security threat because they were susceptible to blackmail—and Cohn, along with McCarthy and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, was responsible for mass firings of gays from the U.S. government during the 1950s. Although Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower would be way too moderate for the Republican Party of 2019, he caved into the anti-gay hysteria and, in 1953, signed into law Executive Order 10450—which barred gays from working in the federal government.
Despite his anti-gay activities, Cohn was widely believed to be a closeted gay man. Vanity Fair’s Marie Brenner, in an in-depth 2017 piece on Cohn, noted that “in lavender Washington, Cohn was known as both a closeted homosexual and homophobic.”
In a March 1988 Life Magazine article, Nicholas von Hoffman quoted Robert Blecker (who had ghost-written one of Cohn’s books) as saying that when he was dying of AIDS-related causes, Cohn claimed to have liver cancer—not AIDS. Von Hoffman’s article quotes Blecker as saying he was among the few people with whom Cohn had been “open about being gay.”
After McCarthy faced a major backlash during the 1950s, Cohn’s legal and political career should have ended. But in the early 1970s, Cohn found a protégé: a young real estate developer from Queens named Donald J. Trump. Cohn represented Trump when, in 1973, the U.S. Justice Department accused him of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in 39 of his buildings by showing racial bias—and the attorney filed a $100 million countersuit against the federal government, calling the accusations against Trump “irresponsible and baseless.”
Long-time Trump ally Roger Stone has articulated how influential Cohn was in Trump’s life. Stone, in a 2018 interview, explained, “You don’t fight on the other guy’s ground. You define what the debate is going to be about. I think Donald learned that from Roy. I learned that from Roy.”
Cohn’s life is the subject of director Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary, “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” Trump has used the title’s exact words: in 2017, after Mueller took over the Russia investigation, a frustrated Trump remarked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”
In a piece for The Nation published on Thursday, journalist Joan Walsh asserts that previously, she thought that perhaps Trump had found his modern-day Roy Cohn in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (one of Trump’s most ardent defenders). But Walsh now says she was “wrong” and that Barr—not Giuliani—has become Trump’s 2019 Roy Cohn, writing that Barr “sat on” Mueller’s “400-page report for three weeks, while quickly releasing a four-page letter exonerating Trump on charges of colluding with Russia and obstructing justice.”
Cohn is mentioned more than once in Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation. White House Counsel Don McGahn reportedly faced Trump’s wrath when Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the investigation. Mueller’s report says that Trump “brought up Roy Cohn, stating that he wished Cohn was his attorney. McGahn interpreted this comment as directed at him, suggesting that Cohn would fight for the president, whereas McGahn would not.”
And former White House Press Secretary Reince Priebus “recalled that when the president talked about Cohn, he said Cohn would win cases for him that had no chance, and that Cohn had done incredible things for him.”
In one of the most amusing parts of Mueller’s report, the special counsel describes a meeting in which Trump wanted to know why McGahn was taking notes, saying, “I never had a lawyer who took notes.”
McGahn, according to Mueller’s report, said “he keeps notes because he is a ‘real lawyer.’” He added that “notes create a record and are not a bad thing.”
And Trump told McGahn, “I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes.”
Trump and Cohn enjoyed so close a relationship that in 1980, Trump commented that Cohn had “been vicious to others in his protection of me.” To be sure, the word “vicious” describes Cohn.
Now 72, Trump still considers Cohn his mentor—and that is nothing to be proud of.
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Comer Threatens ‘Contempt’ Despite Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Quoting Chairman’s Media Appearances
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer is now threatening Hunter Biden with “contempt” of Congress if he refuses to testify behind closed doors. The President’s son has repeatedly offered to testify in public.
Abbe Lowell, the attorney with “close ties inside the Trump White House” who is now representing Hunter Biden, Wednesday morning again reiterated his demand that any testimony before the House Oversight Committee be in a public hearing, and he used Chairman Comer’s own words to make his point.
But Comer, who is moving toward impeaching President Joe Biden despite having offered no actual proof of any impeachable offense, was quick to tell Politico: “He’s been subpoenaed. We expect him to show up. They don’t get to make the rules.”
“I would expect Congress to hold the president’s son in contempt,” Comer said, if Hunter Biden refuses to testify in a closed-door session.
“As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter,” Lowell wrote to Chairman Comer earlier on Wednesday, in a letter published by The Washington Examiner, “Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter.”
Lowell made clear his motivation for a public hearing before cameras.
“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings.”
But Lowell cited Comer’s own words from a few of his numerous media appearances to demonstrate how the Chairman welcomed an open-door public hearing. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona noted that Lowell, in his letter, “again cites Comer practically daring Hunter to publicly testify.”
Lowell cited Comer’s remarks on October 31 on “The Benny Show.”
“We’re in the downhill phase of this investigation now because we have so many documents, and we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose , . . . .”
Also, his September 13 statement on Newsmax.
“Hunter Biden is more than welcome to come in front of the committee . . . he’s invited today. We will drop everything.”
He also cited Comer’s “November 8, 2023, statement in your cover letter addressed to me: ‘Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”
(Emphasis included in Lowell’s letter.)
“We look forward to working out the schedule,” Lowell concluded.
Jim Comer Decimated by NBC Reporter in ‘Under Two Minutes’
Republican House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer melted down in an interview with NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles on Tuesday as he once again appeared unable to prove President Joe Biden engaged in money laundering or other illicit acts.
“So sir, there were the two checks,” Nobles told Comer (video below), “the $40,000 check and the $200,000 check that came from the president’s son and into the President’s bank account. There was also subsequent bank records, which were provided through the [Oversight] Committee, that demonstrate that there were also subsequent pieces of information that went from the President to the president’s son.”
Comer repeatedly denied Nobles account.
“That is not true,” Comer claimed.
“So that you’re saying that that information has been made up then?” Nobles tried to confirm. “Where did that information come from? That came from the Committee.”
“I don’t know,” Comer claimed. “We haven’t seen that information.”
“That is Committee information that is collected from the bank records that your committee has obtained,” Nobles, in something of a “Perry Mason” moment, informed Chairman Comer.
“Just show the check,” Comer insisted.
“Do you have a canceled check for every wire transfer that’s ever come into your account?” Nobles asked.
“Yes,” Comer declared.
“And that’s what has been shown, there is bank records that demonstrate an exact same amount of money,” Nobles explained, as Comer talked over him.
“Are you saying, okay, sir, are you saying those bank records do not exist?” Nobles pressed, “That show the money leaving the President’s account and into his son’s?”
“They were money laundering. You see wires going all over the –” Comer charged.
“Sir, answer this specific question: Is there a bank record that demonstrates the exact amount of money that came from the President’s account into his son’s account that matches the checks that then went back to him? Does that exist? Yes or no?”
“No, no!” Comer blared. “There’s money coming from a law firm.”
“That doesn’t exist? That doesn’t exist, sir?” Nobles asked.
“It does not exist. It’s coming from a law firm. Who put who put the money in the law firm? How do you know the money came from Joe Biden? It could have come from one of Hunter shell companies. You have no idea,” Comer replied.
“Okay. So you are saying that that money that that money exists?” Nobles, making his case, concluded. “That transfer does exist there in the bank records that you and your committee –”
“No!” Comer then declared. “You don’t know what that transfer is.”
Tim Mulvey, the former communications director for the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack responded to the clip, writing: “In my experience, when a chairman goes on tv and can’t answer even the most basic questions about ‘blockbuster’ evidence without utterly unraveling, it might not be the strongest case.”
“In under two minutes,” wrote Adam Cohen of Lawyers for Good Government, “James Comer goes from checks that confirm harmless transactions between Joe and Hunter Biden ‘do not exist’ To ‘they exist, but we claim they might be suspicious.'”
White House spokesman Ian Sams posted the clip on social media late Tuesday night, with a snarky comment.
Watch the video below or at this link.
— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) December 6, 2023
‘What Bible Is He Reading?’: Morning Joe Trashes Mike Johnson for ‘Lie After Lie’ to ‘Keep His Job’
The Louisiana Republican, who led a legal effort among House Republicans to invalidate Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss, has ordered the release of security video footage from the U.S. Capitol attack, but with the faces of rioters blurred out to protect them from being “retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ.”
“Lie after lie after lie – I would love to see his Bible,” Scarborough said. “‘Look at my Bible, that’s how I live.’ Lie after lie after lie. He’s lying about transparency. Liz Cheney was saying yesterday, release all the tapes. He’s not going to release all the tapes. He’ll release selected portions of it. As far as the blurring of the faces, the FBI has all of the footage. They’ve got the footage. Who is he lying to? The press is not stupid enough to believe him. Is he insulting Republicans? Like, why would he lie like that? The FBI has all the footage, so the DOJ has all the footage. Who is he lying to? Maybe he’s just lying to himself, I don’t know. Again, it’s an interesting Bible he has there.”
A spokesperson for Johnson later clarified, saying the speaker wanted to protect participants from retaliation from unspecified non-governmental actors, but Washington Post congressional correspondent Jacqueline Alemany said his stance on Jan. 6 was clearly intended to bolster his position with the MAGA base.
“This is Johnson trying to curry favor with a growing pocket of the House GOP conference that, you know, has been campaigning on vying for freedoms for these insurrectionists,” Alemany said. “Johnson is realizing that his honeymoon is coming to an end as hardliners, especially those in the House Freedom Caucus, the same people who have been advocating for the insurrectionists, for what they have said, have claimed without evidence as the mistreatment behind bars, and this is Johnson just trying to show – even though it really, it doesn’t make all that much sense – he is behind them, and he sees them.”
According to the Department of Justice, more than 1,069 defendants have been charged in the Capitol assault, and at least 594 of them have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges. At least 98 have been convicted at trial, while another 24 have pleaded guilty.
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