Does Trump Seem To Flock With Birds Of A Similar Feather?

By Donald A. Collins | 21 August 2020
Church and State

(Image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Republican virtual convention will be this week. As you consider who to vote for on November 3rd, it occurred to me that a list of some of the incumbent’s primary advisors might have educational value.

Trump’s closest associates both before his election and for the almost 4 years of his administration offer quite an astonishing list of felons.

Those who voted for this incumbent got him and the sorts of people with whom he has associated throughout his adult life.

Rather than having me recite here the record I leave you to explore the words of other sources.

Let’s start with a Trump mentor, an attorney named Roy Cohn.

As Wikipedia tells us:

Roy Marcus Cohn (/koʊn/; February 20, 1927 – August 2, 1986) was an American lawyer best known for being Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel during the Army–McCarthy hearings in 1954, for assisting with McCarthy’s investigations of suspected communists, and as a top political fixer.

Born in New York City and educated at Columbia University, Cohn rose to prominence as a U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor at the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, which concluded with the Rosenbergs’ executions in 1953. As McCarthy’s chief counsel, Cohn came to be closely associated with McCarthyism and its downfall. He also represented and mentored real estate developer and later President of the United States Donald Trump during his early business career.

In 1986, Cohn was disbarred by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court for unethical conduct after attempting to defraud a dying client by forcing the client to sign a will amendment leaving him his fortune. Cohn died five weeks later from AIDS-related complications.

In September, 2019, the FBI released files on Cohn. The key points the article cited were:

  • The FBI on Friday released nearly 750 pages of documents from the bureau’s file on controversial lawyer Roy Cohn, whose clients included President Donald Trump when Trump was a fledgling real estate mogul in New York City.
  • “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump has been quoted lamenting when he was faced with political and legal pressures.
  • Cohn was at least the first of two personal lawyers for Trump to be disbarred. The second was Trump’s more recent attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who gave porn star Stormy Daniels hush money to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump.

You can read the facts I refer to above here.

And on Cohen Wikipedia tells us:

Michael Dean Cohen (born August 25, 1966) is an American disbarred lawyer who served as an attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump from 2006–2018. Cohen was a vice-president of The Trump Organization, and the personal counsel to Trump, and was often described by media as Trump’s “fixer”. He served as co-president of Trump Entertainment and was a board member of the Eric Trump Foundation, a children’s health charity. From 2017 to 2018, Cohen was deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Trump employed Cohen until May 2018, a year after the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections began. The investigation led him to plead guilty on August 21, 2018, to eight counts including campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud. Cohen said he violated campaign finance laws at the direction of Trump and “for the principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election. In November 2018, Cohen entered a second guilty plea for lying to a Senate committee about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

On December 12, 2018, he was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine after pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations. On February 26, 2019, he was officially disbarred by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. He reported to the federal prison near Otisville, New York, on May 6, 2019.

On May 21, 2020, Cohen was released from prison early due to concerns regarding COVID-19, to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest. On July 2, 2020, Cohen was observed dining at a Manhattan restaurant, and on July 9, 2020, was taken back into federal custody after refusing to agree to conditions of home confinement that included a prohibition on communicating with the media. Cohen filed suit complaining his re-arrest was an attempt to prevent him from releasing a tell-all book about Donald Trump. On July 23 a judge found in his favor and ordered that he be returned to home confinement.

Then in the Washington Post on 8/20/20 we read an article by Phillip Bump titled “Each of the three people who led Trump’s 2016 campaign has now faced criminal charges”. It begins:

On Thursday, the third person to lead Trump’s campaign, Stephen K. Bannon, was arrested on federal fraud charges. He’s alleged to have been part of a scheme that redirected private donations intended for building a privately financed wall on the border with Mexico to himself and others. He’s charged, in other words, with having warped Trump’s 2016 calls for a wall on the border (paid for by Mexico) into a personal enrichment scheme.

These are allegations that will be tested in a court of law, and Bannon is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. That’s not the case for Paul Manafort, the second person to lead Trump’s campaign, who is under house arrest after being released from prison out of concern about the coronavirus pandemic.

In March 2019, Manafort was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after being convicted or pleading guilty to a broad array of charges including bank and tax fraud, witness tampering and conspiracy against the United States. The charges Manafort faced stemmed in part from an investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which dug into his business practices and questioned his ties to Russian political interests. On Tuesday, those connections earned more scrutiny with the release of a bipartisan Senate committee report documenting Manafort’s sharing of Trump campaign material with a colleague linked to Russian intelligence.

The Mueller inquiry led to criminal charges against other people linked to Trump and his campaign. Rick Gates served the campaign as deputy campaign chairman and, after the election, worked for Trump’s inaugural committee.

You can read all of it here.

Then of course we know about his history with women. A 11/29/19 BBC article fills in some of the blanks; it is titled “How Trump talks about women – and does it matter?” By Ritu Prasad BBC News, Washington.

You can read it all here.

Being Trump’s close friend can be important as Roger Stone discovered in a news piece which appeared recently on this web site. You can read the piece here.

Finally, it is perhaps fair to suggest that after all some people believe Trump is human. And of course he is thus subject to the errs all human flesh is heir to. However, the above recitation suggests that this incumbent is uniquely precocious.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
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