Politics - News Analysis
Trump Boasted About Fumigating Mar-A-Lago After Visit From Friend with AIDS
Donald Trump allegedly remarked that he had fumigated the dinnerware at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago after his former friend and fixer Roy Cohn, who was dying of AIDS-related complications at the time, had visited the property, according to a new book.
Cohn was a controversial, high-profile and well-connected attorney who had represented celebrities, mob bosses, and politicians, including the anti-communist Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, during his long and colorful career.
Cohn also represented Trump just as the real estate businessman was building on his family’s wealth in the 1970s and 1980s, and the president is said to have learned a lot from Cohn’s uncompromising pugilistic style when it came to publicity, legal cases and political battles.
The Fixers, a new book from investigative journalists Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld published by Penguin Random House this week, details the Trump-Cohn relationship as well as other individuals, including disgraced lawyer Michael Cohen, who were the president’s “fixers.”
By 1986, Cohn, “whose homosexuality and promiscuity were an open secret,” the book says, was in the last few months of his life, dying as a consequence of AIDS, though he denied this publicly and claimed to be fighting liver cancer.
Early that year, Trump “invited Cohn for what seemed like a farewell dinner at Mar-a-Lago… At the table, the place settings were ornate, and a gold candelabra rested on the table. Guests paid tribute to the dying lawyer,” the book says.
“Trump called Cohn to check in as his illness progressed, though they weren’t working together anymore.”
In recent years, Trump was sometimes “sentimental” about Cohn, the book says, noting to his campaign adviser Roger Stone, who also knew Cohn well, after winning the presidency: “We sure miss Roy, don’t we?”
But the book also alleges Trump expressed other feelings about Cohn: “Dining with friends at Mar-a-Lago in late December, three weeks before he’d assume the presidency, Trump shared yet another memory.
“This one perhaps was evoked by the resort and Cohn’s last visit there, a few months before he died of AIDS. Trump recalled to his guests that after Cohn had left, ‘I had to spend a fortune to fumigate all the dishes and silverware.'”
“Though he’d been dead for thirty years, Roy Cohn’s legacy had shadowed Donald Trump as he sought and then won the presidency,” the book says.
“When he moved to the top of the Republican field, Trump’s relationship with the red-baiting McCarthy aide turned mob lawyer became fresh fodder for reporters trying to understand Trump and his rise in national politics.
“A narrative began to take shape: Trump had adapted Cohn’s gutter philosophy to his own purposes. Cohn had taught him how to get in the mud, bend the truth to his whims, and declare victory despite all evidence to the contrary.
“But the reality was more complicated than that. Cohn had had a great influence on Trump, but the two had been simpatico from the outset; Cohn had merely taken Trump’s natural inclinations and refined them.”