Sometime in 1973, Donald Trump meets attorney and Nixon adviser Roy Cohn at Le Club, an elite hangout Trump frequents to make powerful connections. Cohn becomes Donald and Fred’s lawyer.
Most sources claim they met in 1973, but Cohn says in a filmed interview that he met Trump when he was 23. Donald Trump would have been 23 from June 1969 through May 1970.
When the Justice Department sues Fred and Donald Trump for housing discrimination in October, Cohn represents them. Trump learns from Cohn how to manipulate a story and make the government regret coming after you.
Roy Cohn, 1954 – 1973
Charge The Gays: After the disaster that was Roy Cohn’s attack on the U.S. military, Cohn turned his attack towards gay people… despite being a closeted gay man himself. His witch hunt for gays and lesbians who must be Communists led to the termination of dozens if not hundreds of government employees believed to be gay. This time period became known as the Lavender Scare.
Trump Trick: Attack others for something you yourself are guilty of so you appear innocent.
White Collar Crime: In 1955, Cohn became a corporate attorney in a private practice. At some point he secretly made the partners at his law firm owners of multiple fraudulent banks without them knowing, and he was sued for $1 million. Later, he was indicted for perjury and stock market crime but avoided prison by appealing to the jury’s patriotism.
Trump Trick: Claim you love the country too much to ever abuse your freedoms.
Cohn’s Media Army: His experience with the McCarthy trials and his indictment taught Cohn that the media will report anything you say as fact, as long as you say it enough times or with enough confidence. He buddied up with the New York media and even struck deals with journalists at the New York Post and New York Daily News. He would leak information to them, accurate or not, in exchange for them writing anything he told them to publish. Anyone he couldn’t pay off or bribe with information, he would blackmail.
Trump Trick: Say something so many times that the media quotes you even if it’s bullshit. For example: the election will be rigged, universal mail-in voting is dangerous, a caravan of Mexicans are coming to invade our country.
Celebrities and The Mob: In the 1960s, fame was the thing to have, and Cohn wanted to be surround himself with it. He started frequenting the most expensive, elite hangouts and attended parties he knew high-profile celebrities and politicians would attend. Around this time, Cohn connected with members of multiple New York mafia families. He became the main legal representation for La Cosa Nostra, the Italian mob. Both the Gambino crime family and the Genovese crime family used Cohn as their “get out of jail free” card, and he gave their members a media spotlight that convinced the public they couldn’t be criminals.
Trump Trick: Create a false image of yourself as an upstanding citizen or celebrity do-gooder so people won’t believe you’re a criminal.
Cohn served as an informal adviser to President Richard Nixon, who took office in 1969. Cohn’s client list also included or would later include Rupert Murdoch and Alan Dershowitz, a friend and client of Jeffery Epstein.
Where’s My Roy Cohn (Documentary)
Editor’s Note: We intend to add files later on with their own sources for most of Roy Cohn’s backstory. Anything mentioned in this file that does not receive its own file on the website will have a source added here.
Photograph: Marilynn K. Yee—The New York Times/Redux