Michael Cohen used to love Donald Trump. Cohen owned the mafia-like epithet of “Donald Trump’s fixer.” He was chief among the parade of Trump’s lawyers you never wanted to see, the ones who delivered the bad news and relished it, who told you you’d better be prepared to take forty cents on the dollar for the job you just did for Mr. Trump or they would ruin you. Sue Mr. Trump and we’ll come after you and your family, he would say. Sue Mr. Trump and we’ll bury you in paperwork and keep you in court for decades. Michael Cohen was to Trump what Tom Hagen was to the Godfather, only more vicious. And he loved it.
The only downside for Cohen was that his wife and children hated Trump. They saw what Trump had done to their husband and father, they saw how Trump turned him into a monster. They hated Trump because they saw Trump for what he was, a vicious, grasping, stupid, hateful little conman. An evil bastard. A pompous blowhard.
Cohen didn’t see it that way. Cohen saw Trump as his best friend and his ticket to glory, all the way to the job of White House counsel. He was to Trump what Albert Speer was to Hitler. If Trump could have been said to have a friend, Cohen was his friend.
Then Cohen had an Ebenezer Scrooge moment, the moment where he woke up and saw his true self in the mirror, the moment where he realised that he was in trouble with the government and the FBI, all thanks to Donald Trump. He was scared. The FBI was threatening him with many years in prison for tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions. They even threatened to jail his innocent wife. Cohen was scared out of his mind. And Donald Trump was nowhere to be found. Trump had thrown Cohen under the bus.
Cohen saw the error of his ways and repented. The cynical among us might think he was just rebranding himself with a new label more palatable to the general public, but I’m not among them. I think Michael Cohen’s conversion was and remains sincere.
Whatever you may think, you have to agree that Cohen is one of the most important voices against Donald Trump around today. Other former close friends who Trump has either shuffled to the sidelines or betrayed completely, people like Steve Bannon, Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani, remain oddly loyal. They just don’t get it. Cohen has gotten it. Cohen has seen the light.
Cohen recently finished a 3 year prison term for tax evasion, making false statements to a Congressional committee and other things. The sentence was greatly reduced because he cooperated with federal authorities and he still is. These days besides writing books he is available for commentary about Trump on various news outlets. He also appears on YouTube where he has inaugurated a new segment called, “Michael Cohen Reacts.”
What he’s reacting to first is Donald Trump’s recent Nuremberg-style rally in Ohio where Trump wandered aimlessly from silly topic to silly topic like a disoriented old man or undisciplined child. “And the first thing we’re going to react to,” Cohen explains, “is yesterday’s Donald Trump’s stupid, stupid appearance at this Ohio rally where the first and one of the most important things in his mind to talk about is the fact that there’s not enough water in order to flush the toilets. If that doesn’t offend you, I’m not really sure what will.”
That’s an old and very odd complaint from Trump’s. It’s also a symptom that people on Trump’s team aren’t telling him how stupid that particular narrative makes Trump look, because he keeps bringing it up. He shouldn’t have to be told, of course. There are real problems in the world today, like Covid, Russia invading Ukraine, inflation and supply issues, things like that. Inadequately flushing toilets aren’t among them.
Cohen then went on to say, “How about Donald Trump telling you [at the Ohio rally] how smart he is, and he wishes there was a test out there that would show the world just how smart he actually is? Well, Donald, as your former fixer and a guy who gave you a lot of information over the course of a decade and a half, there’s something called an IQ test.” That’s right, Trump is still banging on about how smart he is, still telling stories about how amazed doctors are at how brilliantly he smashed a standard orientation test. (You can always tell when Trump is lying about such stories because when he “quotes” some of the things people allegedly say about him they always begin by calling him “Sir”.)
Cohen reminds Trump of how that self-anointed “genius” got him to cover up the evidence that Trump’s intellect isn’t what Trump claims it is. “How about the fact that you turned around and you had me send letters, starting with New York Military Academy, to Fordham, to University of Pennsylvania, to the SAT Regents, so that people would not get a chance to take a look at your scores.”
“It’s the same thing as when you paid off the doctor,” Cohen reminds Trump, “to turn around and to tell him that he needs to tell the whole world that you’re the healthiest president in the history of this country. But you’re not and everybody knows you’re not. All you have to do is look at you and we know you’re not the healthiest president … it’s absolutely a joke that people are buying into your bullshit day in and day out.”
Cohen remains a fascinating character because, like Mary Trump, he knew Trump well and personally from the inside but, unlike Mary Trump, he also knew him from inside Trump’s tight inner circle of evil. Above all, Cohen predicted the January 6 insurrection nearly two years before it happened.
These days Cohen says Trump will never be president again and he won’t run in 2024. He finished by saying, “I know this man better than all, and rest assured, this man does not belong in the White House.” And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.