‘He Doesn’t Know What the Word Sacrifice Means’

Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.

As Philip Rucker summed it up, with less than 99 days until the election, the Republican nominee is debating with the parents of a slain American serviceman over whether he has sacrificed as much they have. David Simon, creator of The Wire, added, “If I scripted this, it would critiqued harshly and correctly as West Wing-era liberal wish-fulfillment.” But over the last 14 months, Trump has repeatedly done things that made liberals rub their hands in glee—only to see him escape unscathed.

.. In late 1953, Senator Joe McCarthy turned his red-baiting crusade toward the Army, accusing it of being stocked with Communists. McCarthy and his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, had miscalculated, and the reaction doomed McCarthy’s crusade and career. Decades later, Cohn became a close friend of a young real-estate developer named Donald Trump. If Cohn’s protégé learned anything about from him about why it’s unwise for a politician to go to war with the U.S. Army, it isn’t showing today.

Don’t Mess With Roy Cohn

Classic profile of the New York powerhouse lawyer who made his name as “arrogant, red-baiting counsel” to Joe McCarthy; his later clients included Carmine ‘Lilo’ Galante, ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, and Donald Trump. “Prospective clients who want to kill their husband, torture a business partner, break the government’s legs, hire Roy Cohn. He is a legal executioner—the toughest, meanest, loyalest, vilest, and one of the most brilliant lawyers in America. He is not a very nice man” (12,800 words)

The Quiet American: Paul Manafort Profile

Paul Manafort made a career out of stealthily reinventing the world’s nastiest tyrants as noble defenders of freedom. Getting Donald Trump elected will be a cinch.

Given Manafort’s experience and skill set, it never made sense that he would be limited to such a narrow albeit crucial task as delegate accumulation.

.. He is among the most significant political operatives of the past 40 years, and one of the most effective. He has revolutionized lobbying several times over, though he self-consciously refrains from broadcasting his influence. Unlike his old business partners, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, you would never describe Manafort as flamboyant. He stays in luxury hotels, but orders room service and churns out memos.

.. “Manafort is a person who doesn’t necessarily show himself. There’s nothing egotistical about him,” says the economist Anders Aslund, who advised the Ukrainian government. The late Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory described him as having a “smooth, noncommittal manner, ” though she also noted his “aggrieved brown eyes.” Despite his decades of amassing influence in Washington and other global capitals, he’s never been the subject of a full magazine profile

.. “Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, lined up most of the dictators of the world we could find. … Dictators are in the eye of the beholder.” Manafort had a special gift for changing how dictators are beheld by American eyes. He would recast them as noble heroes—venerated by Washington think tanks, deluged with money from Congress.

.. The genesis of Donald Trump’s relationship with Paul Manafort begins with Roy Cohn. That Roy Cohn: Joe McCarthy’s heavy-lidded henchman, lawyer to the Genovese family.

.. It was Roy Cohn who introduced Stone and Manafort to Trump.

 .. Dirty tricks came naturally to Stone. He assumed a pseudonym and made contributions on behalf of the Young Socialist Alliance to one of Nixon’s potential challengers. He hired spies to infiltrate the McGovern campaign.
.. When Baker needed his own manager for his 1978 campaign to become attorney general of Texas, he tapped Manafort. The experience of whispering in Baker’s ear left a lasting impression. “Paul modeled himself after Baker,” one of his friends told me.
.. Despite his Yankee stock, Manafort ran Reagan’s Southern operation, the racially tinged appeal that infamously began in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the hamlet where civil rights activists were murdered in 1964.
.. Manafort and Stone pioneered a new style of firm, what K Street would come to call a double-breasted operation. One wing of the shop managed campaigns, electing a generation of Republicans, from Phil Gramm to Arlen Spector. The other wing lobbied the officials they helped to victory on behalf of its corporate clients.
.. Testifying before a congressional committee in 1993, he began with his rote protestations of friendship. “Nobody likes Indians as much as Donald Trump.”
.. Trump poured money into a shell group called the New York Institute for Law and Society. The group existed solely to publish ads smearing his potential Indian competition.
.. The Black in its name belonged to Charles Black, who as a 25-year-old launched the Senate career of Jesse Helms. Later, they lured Lee Atwater, the evil genius who would devise the Willie Horton gambit for George H.W. Bush.

.. Black would later boast that the firm had schemed to gain cartel-like control of the 1988 Republican presidential primary. They managed all of the major campaigns. Atwater took Bush; Black ran Dole; Stone handled Jack Kemp. A congressional staffer joked to a reporter from Time, “Why have primaries for the nomination? Why not have the candidates go over to Black, Manafort and Stone and argue it out?”

.. Black, Manafort, and Stone hired alumni of the Department of Housing and Urban Development then used those connections to win $43 million in “moderate rehabilitation funds” for a renovation project in Upper Deerfield, New Jersey. Local officials had no interest in the grants, as they considered the shamble of cinder blocks long past the point of repair. The money flowed from HUD regardless, and developers paid Manafort’s firm a $326,000 fee for its handiwork. He later bought a 20 percent share in the project. Two years later, rents doubled without any sign of improvement. Conditions remained, in Mary McGrory’s words, “strictly Third World.”
.. An aide to Mobutu Sese Seko told the journalist Art Levine, “That only shows how important they are!” Indeed, Manafort enticed the African dictator to hire the firm. Many of the world’s dictators eventually became his clients. “Name a dictator and Black, Manafort will name the account,” Levine wrote.
.. Manafort understood the mindset of the dictator wasn’t so different from his corporate clients.
.. Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi, who conscripted soldiers, burned enemies, and indiscriminately laid land mines, as a “linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior … one of the few authentic heroes of our time.
.. “So the war lasted another two more years and claimed a few thousand more lives! So what? What counts to a Washington lobbyist is the ability to deliver a tangible victory and spruce up his client’s image.”

.. The best political hope for his region, and, more to the point, his own business interests, was a gruff politician called Victor Yanukovych. As a teen, Yanukovych spent three years in prison for robbery and assault. After his release, he was again arrested for assault. None of this past history—these “youthful mistakes,” which he once instructed the KGB to expunge from his record—slowed his rise through the political ranks. In 2002, he served a brief stint as prime minister in a sclerotic pro-Russian government, mired in corruption scandals.

.. Yanukovych had just run for president of Ukraine, a campaign that involved rampant fraud and the possible poisoning of his opponent with dioxin.
.. Despite Yanukovych’s Soviet style, Manafort considered him political clay that could be molded. “He saw raw talent where others didn’t and he shaped it brilliantly,” one former State Department official told me. Manafort set about giving Yanukovych a new look: well-tailored suits, shirts and ties that matched, a haircut that tamed his raging bouffant. Manafort taught the pol a few simple lessons that helped sand down his edges. He showed him how to wave to a crowd, rather than keep his arms locked to his sides. He instructed him to refrain from speaking off the cuff. He taught him how to display a modicum of empathy when listening to the stories of voters. “I feel your pain,” Yanukovych would now exclaim at his rallies.

.. People believed that when Yanukovych was prime minister, “there had been an order to things,” Brian Mefford, a Ukraine-based consultant told me. “That’s the sentiment they tried to run on.”

.. At the same time, Manafort understood how to accentuate divisions in the Ukrainian electorate. He had overseen Reagan’s Southern strategy; he understood the power of cultural polarization. His polling showed that Yanukovych could consolidate his base by stoking submerged grievances. Even though there was little evidence of the mistreatment of Russian language speakers by the Ukrainian state, he encouraged his candidate to make an issue of imagined abuses to rally their base. To the same end, he instructed Yanukovych to rage against NATO, which he did by condemning joint operations the alliance was conducting in Crimea.
..He bluntly announced that he wouldn’t ask Yanukovych to dial back the rhetoric. It polled too well.
..Bernie Sanders’ consultant Tad Devine went to work for him in 2009. Ukrainians spent heavily in Washington, hiring a small army of top-drawer Republican lobbyists, including former congressmen Vin Weber and Billy Tauzin, to bolster Yanukovych’s image in Washington and ultimately stave off American support for Ukrainian democracy.
.. He has a particular knack for taking autocrats and presenting them as defenders of democracy. If he could convince the respectable world that thugs like Savimbi and Marcos are friends of America, then why not do the same for Trump?

The man who showed Donald Trump how to exploit power and instill fear

Cohn also showed Trump how to exploit power and instill fear through a simple formula: attack, counterattack and never apologize.

Since he announced his run for the White House a year ago, Trump has used such tactics more aggressively than any other candidate in recent memory, demeaning opponents, insulting minorities and women, and whipping up anger among his supporters.

.. Cohn gained notoriety in the 1950s as Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel and the brains behind his hunt for communist infiltrators. By the 1970s, Cohn maintained a powerful network in New York City, using his connections in the courts and City Hall to reward friends and punish those who crossed him.

.. Trump prized Cohn’s reputation for aggression. According to a New York Times profile a quarter-century ago, when frustrated by an adversary, Trump would pull out a photograph of Cohn and ask, “Would you rather deal with him?” Trump remained friends with him even after the lawyer was disbarred in New York for ethical lapses.

.. “He was a vicious, Red-baiting source of sweeping wrongdoing.”

.. “Both of them are attack dogs.”

.. He professed admiration for McCarthy to the end of his life. “I never worked for a better man or a greater cause,” he wrote in his autobiography.

.. Cohn often operated in the gray areas of the law. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he fought off four federal or state indictments for alleged extortion, bribery, conspiracy, perjury and banking violations. At the same time, he avoided paying state and federal income taxes and engaged in a variety of schemes to take advantage of wealthy clients, court records show.

.. Trump, not yet a household name, knew about Cohn’s reputation as a legal knife fighter.

.. At the time, Trump and his father, Fred, were facing Justice Department allegations that they had systematically discriminated against black people at their family-owned or -managed apartment complexes across New York City.

.. Donald Trump, his father and Cohn called a news conference at the New York Hilton hotel. They said they were suing the government for $100 million in damages relating to the Justice Department’s “irresponsible and baseless” allegations.

.. Cohn represented him in two libel cases against journalists. Although Trump said the legal work cost $100,000, he said it was worth the money because “I’ve broken one writer,”

.. Cohn urged Trump to create a prenuptial agreement.

.. Even though he lived a lavish life, Cohn claimed he had little taxable income or assets. Over the years, he routinely vacationed with clients on the Greek island of Mykonos or in the south of France on the yacht of a British investor. He said his extravagant expenses were work-related. That included A-list parties he threw at his home.

.. Sidney Zion, a journalist who helped Cohn write his autobiography, described him as “the Babe Ruth of the Gay World.” But when gay rights activists once asked him to represent a teacher fired for being homosexual, Cohn refused. He told the activists: “I believe homosexual teachers are a grave threat to our children, they have no business polluting the schools of America,” Cohn and Zion wrote in “The Autobiography of Roy Cohn.”

.. “What went on in Studio 54 will never, ever happen again,” Trump told writer Timothy O’Brien. “First of all, you didn’t have AIDS. You didn’t have the problems you do have now. I saw things happening there that to this day I have never seen again. I would watch supermodels getting screwed, well-known supermodels getting screwed on a bench in the middle of the room. There were seven of them and each one was getting screwed by a different guy.

.. “Mr. Stone, I want you to meet Tony Salerno,” Cohn said.

There Stone was, standing before the future boss of the Genovese crime family.

“So Roy says we’re going with Reagan this time,” Salerno said.

.. At Trump’s request, Cohn lobbied Edwin Meese III, a senior White House aide, to secure an appointment for Trump’s sister Maryanne Barry, an experienced federal prosecutor in New Jersey, to the U.S. District Court.

.. Over the years, the list of his friends and guests included Norman Mailer, Bianca Jagger, Barbara Walters, William F. Buckley Jr., George Steinbrenner, former New York mayor Abraham D. Beame and many others, some of them Cohn clients.

.. Joey Adams once elicited laughter with the quip, “If you’re indicted, you’re invited.”

.. State officials later said Trump had “circumvented” state limits on individual and corporate contributions by spreading out payments through Trump subsidiaries, but they did not formally accuse Trump of wrongdoing.

.. Trump also had to work with unions and companies known to be controlled by New York’s ruling mafia families, which had infiltrated the construction industry

.. Cohn was fond of saying that winning was not sufficient. People had to know about it.

.. Cohn was indicted and acquitted three times of federal charges of bribery, perjury and conspiracy. He was also charged with violating banking laws in Illinois, but the charges were later dropped.

.. Cohn turned his troubles into news. He loved the attention the tabloids and magazines gave him, and he socialized with some of their owners, including Rupert Murdoch.

.. “All this has done me a lot of good,” Cohn said, according to writer Ken Auletta. “I’d be a liar if I denied it. It has given me a reputation for being tough, a reputation for being a winner.”

.. “I don’t kid myself about Roy. He was no Boy Scout,” Trump wrote in “Trump: The Art of the Deal.” “He once told me that he’d spent more than two thirds of his adult life under indictment for one charge or another.

.. “I don’t kid myself about Roy. He was no Boy Scout,” Trump wrote in “Trump: The Art of the Deal.” “He once told me that he’d spent more than two thirds of his adult life under indictment for one charge or another.

.. a client of Cohn’s was in the hospital after suffering a debilitating stroke. Cohn visited the man, who was barely conscious. Cohn later claimed his client, during that visit, made him a trustee to his will. The man could not move. A nurse witnessed Cohn guiding his hand to complete the man’s signature on a legal document.

.. a host of prominent people testified to Cohn’s good character. Among them was Trump

.. Cohn questioned the fairness and competence of those who accused him of misconduct