(Disclaimer- I am not an expert on Cohn, the
gangster lawyer who was Donald Trump's mentor.
I am posting this highly personal article by
a reader, Joseph, as an introduction
to this important figure in US history.)
See First Comment Below which suggests that Cohn was the Jeffrey Epstein of his era.
Two biographies of Cohn have been published: "Citizen Cohn" by Nicholas Hoffman, and "The Autobiography [sic] of Roy Cohn" by Sidney Zion.
Hoffman's "Citizen Cohn" is by far the most often seen on library shelves. Zion's "Autobiography of Roy Cohn" is less often seen. Cohn's legal self-help books are less seen still. His "McCarthy" (1968) is available from used book dealers, but is the rarest in libraries: interlibrary loan typically will get it on short-term loan from a distant rural public library.
"Citizen Cohn" is a straightforward hatchet job. It will tell you that to relieve perianal itching related to homosexual activities, Cohn pulled down his underpants while riding in a fancy car full of corporate lawyers, and put his butt to the air conditioner vent. It will tell you worse than that.
"The Autobiography of Roy Cohn" is baffling. For an autobiography to be authored by someone else, is a contradiction in terms, so much so that the book often is erroneously listed as co-authored by Cohn and Zion. Furthermore, the most edifying passages in the book - it is easy to find them - are copied without attribution and with only minor changes in wording, from Cohn's real autobiography "McCarthy". So, it is easy to prove that Cohn wrote enough of Zion's book, that Cohn should have been listed as co-author. Zion explains that Cohn originally wrote the book, but it was boring, so Cohn brought in Zion to redo it and jazz it up with oral history.
Zion was the father of Libby Zion, the girl whose death from the institutionalized malpractice of the medical education system, resulted in significant reforms in intern and resident training. Such a sobering experience might have matured Zion. Zion's attitude toward Cohn seems friendly, yet the part of Zion's book that isn't lifted from Cohn's "McCarthy", reads like a gangster novel.
Cohn is depicted as an influence-peddling gangster lawyer and voracious homosexual but with a zany, loveable side - sort of a homosexual version of Bugsy Siegel, minus the violence.
Whether Zion's goal was to humanize Cohn or libel him, I don't know. I'm suspicious of someone who tells me he's the sole author, when he's not. Zion, an experienced lawyer who switched to journalism, does defend Cohn in the discussion of the latter's disbarment, saying basically that law practice is so fundamentally and institutionally corrupt, that any other lawyer in New York City could have been disbarred with as much reason as Cohn was.
Who Roy Cohn says Roy Cohn was. (From "McCarthy" by Roy Cohn.)
Roy Marcus Cohn was the only child of a stable married Jewish couple in New York City. Cohn's father served for many years as a New York state supreme court judge. In "McCarthy", Cohn modestly notes that accelerated degree programs were common after WWII; Roy got his bachelor's and law degrees from such a program at Columbia, at about the earliest possible age.
When he was old enough, Roy almost followed an historical West Point tradition by leaving his college and entering West Point. However, he failed the West Point physical tests, which were demanding enough that although Cohn was physically normal, he couldn't pass those tests without more physical conditioning, than he had been able to make time for, in his studious life. Later, Cohn joined the New York national guard, rising from an ordinary private, to sergeant, to warrant officer, to lieutenant in the state guard's JAG corps.
Both the attempt to enter West Point, and the hitch in the state guard, kept Cohn out of the regular Army draft at crucial times. If Roy's father had pulled strings to get Roy's West Point nomination or Roy's enlistment in the guard, he wouldn't have told Roy. Roy must have wondered if his father were guilty.
At the Army-McCarthy hearing, the "certifiable" psychopath Joe Welch, [Chief Counsel for the US Army) blackmailed Cohn into agreeing not to call attention to the Red background of Welch's righthand man, Fred Fisher, or else Welch would attack Cohn as a draft dodger (possibly thereby implicating Cohn's father, though Cohn does not mention the possible involvement of his father, in his book).
Fisher's Red background was already publicly known, but Welch wanted to hide it from the mass television audience. McCarthy, who also was a lawyer, recognized that the deal between Cohn and Welch was blackmail, unconscionable and void. So, McCarthy himself "outed" Fisher as a Red on live television. This was what happened just before the scene they've shown us forever after: Welch crying "Have you no decency?"
(Roy Marcus Cohn was Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954.)
Welch talked as if Fisher - a thirtysomething attorney who got his law degree at Harvard, whose job was to help prosecute McCarthy, and who already was publicly known to be a former if not a current member of the Red front Lawyers Guild - were helpless little Oliver Twist. Fake crying equals a crook, but Welch did real crying in the lobby in front of the journalists' cameras: that's more than a crook, that's a psychopath.
McCarthy's adversaries had more money and could bring in hired guns like Welch to play off against McCarthy. For most of my life, I thought Welch was a senator who was a disgrace to the Senate. As it turned out, Welch was hired by the Army - an even bigger disgrace that the Senate would hide behind Welch's skirts.
There's a great deal more in "McCarthy", but I can't retell it better than Cohn, and I don't want to type the whole book. In "McCarthy", Cohn used a technique also used by MacArthur in the latter's "Reminiscences". Cohn sometimes gives the facts and leaves the reader to draw the obvious conclusion. I think this is how Cohn, like MacArthur, got past censorship - the leftwing publishing cartels and the centralized bureaus telling librarians which books to buy. I've filled in Cohn's account of the Fisher incident, in this way.
As another example of Cohn's minimalist technique, he mentions that Joe Welch was an Iowa farm boy (think "Mr. Haney" on "Green Acres") who went to Grinnell College. Iowans know, as Cohn surely did also, that Grinnell long has been the most leftwing college in the state.
Cohn also tells us that it was a senator from Vermont, who initially carried the football of saying that McCarthy, Cohn, and Schine all were homosexuals. We know what a leftwing state Vermont is. "Homophobia" is no problem for the Reds, when they're using it to smear Cohn. Let that be a lesson to you, homosexuals: the Reds aren't your friends; you'll be the first ones they massacre.
Cohn's homosexuality or lack thereof is just a distraction the Reds use. I'm glad I disregarded the cartoonish propaganda about Cohn and went to an original source: Cohn's own book, "McCarthy".
Lastly, "McCarthy" reveals that McCarthy et al were not even "hunting Reds" at all. Instead, they were pressuring bureaucrats in the Army and State Departments, to act upon the knowledge that those bureaucrats already had, about Red infiltration, instead of totally ignoring the problem as they were. That's quite a difference, which the "politically correct" history of "McCarthyism" will never tell us about.
First Comment from Chaos Navigator:
Roy Cohn sat in Permindex Board, involved in JFK assassination. Quote from:
"In an interview with former NYPD detective James Rothstein, this author discovered that such operations do exist and go far back into America's secret history. Rothstein is no conspiracy theorist. He is a legend in American law enforcement and speaks from experience.