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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Madison Cawthorn Retains High-Powered GOP Attorney for Case Seeking to Disqualify Him as an Insurrectionist
U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is facing several six challengers to his seat in the House of Representatives this year. Two Democrats will face off, with one becoming their party’s nominee. Four Republicans are primarying the far-right freshman lawmaker, one of those five will go on to face the Democratic challenger.
But Congressman Cawthorn is facing an even great challenge, and he’s taking it seriously.
A group of attorneys is looking at both the 14 Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina law, in an attempt to have him declared an insurrectionist and therefore unfit to serve.
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,” the 14th Amendment reads, “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
The New York Times Tuesday night reports “Mr. Cawthorn, 26, who is in his first term in Congress, has denounced the case as an egregious misreading of the 14th Amendment, but he has retained James Bopp Jr., one of the most prominent conservative campaign lawyers in the country, as counsel.”
Bopp, known as being one of the attorneys who won the democracy-damning Citizens United case at the Supreme Court, flooding American politics with millions (billions?) in dark money. He’s also been a vice-chair of the RNC, and is recognized as a top conservative lawyer.
The Times adds that “North Carolina’s election statute offers challengers a remarkably low bar to question a candidate’s constitutional qualifications for office. Once someone establishes a ‘reasonable suspicion or belief’ that a candidate is not qualified, the burden shifts to the officeseeker to prove otherwise.”
Other Republicans are likely worried, which should have some wondering who’s footing the bill for Bopp.
“If Mr. Cawthorn is labeled an ‘insurrectionist,’ that could have broader ramifications. Other Republican House members, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, face similar accusations, but their state’s election laws present higher hurdles for challenges to their candidate qualifications. If one of their colleagues is disqualified for his role in encouraging the rioters, those hurdles might become easier to clear.”
Read the entire Times report here.
Chasten Buttigieg Slams Florida GOP’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill for ‘Pushing LGBTQ Families Back Into the Closet’
Former school teacher Chasten Buttigieg is slamming Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban discussion of LGBTQ issues in public schools under the guise of “parental rights,” saying it will “kill kids.”
Appearing on CNN Buttigieg asked, “what kind of country we’re building, or in Florida, what kind of state are you building where you’re essentially pushing kids back into the closet, you’re saying we can’t talk about you? We can’t even talk about your families.”
“And you know, as a kid who grew up for 18 years, being told, ‘you don’t belong, something about you is wrong.’ Sometimes you take that trauma to heart and unfortunately there are a lot of kids in this country who do the worst because we tell them, ‘something about you is twisted and you don’t belong here.'”
Buttigieg railed against the bill over the weekend, posting a tweet pointing to a Trevor Project study that he says found “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year.”
This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can’t talk to their teachers? https://t.co/VtfFLPlsn3
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) January 20, 2022
The bill, sponsored by freshman Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, in part reads: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
Buttigieg, who is married to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, said, “if kids come into the classroom Monday morning, and they’re all talking about their weekends, and hypothetically a kid like mine says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dad. We went to the zoo, we went and got ice cream,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘hey, we don’t talk about things like that in this classroom’? You know, and not only what does that do to kids like mine, but also do to a kid in the classroom [who is] starting to realize that they’re different.”
JUST NOW: “”What kind of state are you building where you’re essentially pushing kids back into the closet and saying we can’t talk about you? … [Kids] take that trauma to heart.”@Chasten on what is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in FL.pic.twitter.com/M1Qiz9Zt9f
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) January 25, 2022
Image by Pete for America via Flickr
Psaki Schools Doocy on Trump’s Infamous Twitter Tantrums After He Whines About ‘Hashtag’ Diplomacy
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question from Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy on Tuesday by reminding him that former President Donald Trump had a history of conducting diplomacy through tantrums on Twitter.
At a White House press briefing, Doocy asked why Secretary of State Antony Blinken had expressed support for Ukraine on Twitter with the hashtag “#IStandWithUkraine.”
“Has that ever worked in stopping an authoritarian regime from doing anything, a hashtag?” Doocy wondered.
“I will have to say that, unlike the last administration, we don’t think Twitter is the only means of engaging or negotiating or discussing important topics,” Psaki replied. “But it is important for us to convey to the Ukrainian people who do view commentary through a range of forums.”
Watch the video below from Fox News.
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