Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, who was arrested on Friday, and Donald Trump share a unique history: Both were heavily influenced by the infamous attorney Roy Cohn, who served as a chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare in the 1950s and would later become a leading mob attorney. Cohn represented Trump for years and once claimed he considered Trump to be his best friend. Cohn is the subject of a new documentary at the Sundance Film Festival titled “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” We speak to the film’s director, Matt Tyrnauer.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. On Friday, federal agents raided the home of President Trump’s ally and former adviser Roger Stone. Prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team charged the longtime Republican operative with obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks. An indictment, unsealed Friday, reveals a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone ahead of the 2016 election to see what other leaks about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were coming from WikiLeaks. Roger Stone was released later Friday on a $250,000 bond and spoke to the press.
ROGER STONE: I will plead not guilty to these charges. I believe this is a politically motivated investigation. I am troubled by the political motivations of the prosecutors.
AMY GOODMAN: Roger Stone will be arraigned on Tuesday. Stone and Donald Trump share a unique history: Both were heavily influenced by the infamous attorney Roy Cohn, who served as a chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare in the 1950s and would later become a leading mob attorney. Roy Cohn represented Donald Trump for years and once claimed Trump considered him to be his best friend.
Roy Cohn is the subject of a new documentary here at the Sundance Film Festival titled Where’s My Roy Cohn? I spoke to the film’s director, Matt Tyrnauer, on Sunday. I began by asking him to explain who Roger Stone is and his connection to Roy Cohn.
MATT TYRNAUER: He was a protégé of Roy Cohn. He has something in common with Donald Trump other than being a friend and off-and-on political adviser to Donald Trump. He and Trump were both the protégés of Roy Cohn. Their origins in politics, and really in all of the way they deal with life and business, come from the same place. And that’s the late Roy M. Cohn.ADVERTISEMENT
AMY GOODMAN: So, before we go to the late Roy M. Cohn, talk about your feelings on Friday, on that day that began with a raid of Roger Stone’s house, and just who Roger Stone is.
MATT TYRNAUER: Roger Stone is a political dirty trickster whose methods and persona really dovetail with and presage the Trump administration. They’re cut from the same cloth. And again, they had the same mentor—I can’t overstate the importance of that. This comes from the dirty pool kind of illegitimate political world that Roy Cohn personified, Richard Nixon toiled in. And Donald Trump is a kind of delayed re-emergence of this dirty pool transactional type of politics that now really is verging onto a type of fascism, that I think has been incipient in our republic for a long time but has emerged. And the point of the film is that the seeds for this were planted long ago, and Roy Cohn was a major sower of those seeds.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to a clip of Roger Stone from your film, talking in the same way you’re talking, interestingly, about Roy Cohn, Donald Trump and, well, Roger Stone himself.ADVERTISEMENT
ROGER STONE: Roy would always be for an offensive strategy. Those are the rules of war. You don’t fight on the other guy’s ground; you define what the debate is going to be about. I think Donald learned that from Roy; I learned that from Roy.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Roger Stone talking about Roy M. Cohn. So, Matt Tyrnauer, take us there. Take us to who Roy M. Cohn is and how you became so fascinated with him.
MATT TYRNAUER: Roy Cohn would have been, I think, a very bold footnote in American history, if it hadn’t been for the surprising result of the election of 2016. He was, at a very young age, the handmaiden of Joseph McCarthy in the early ’50s on through the mid-’50s. He was most famous for those photographs of him whispering into the ear of McCarthy during the infamous Senate subcommittee witch-hunting hearings, where McCarthy, demagogue of his era, was trying to root out mostly imaginary communists in the State Department and other branches of the government.ADVERTISEMENT
Cohn was a son of great privilege, who would became an attorney. In fact, he graduated from law school so young, he couldn’t take the bar exam for another year. He was a prodigy, and he was a very brilliant man. It turned out, through the course of his life, he used his brilliance for mostly the dark arts of manipulation and self-enrichment, and certainly, later in his career, even literally mafia activities. He became the number one mob lawyer in this country. But he was also the great—I call him the CEO of the Favor Bank. He was the great political fixer of his time.
AMY GOODMAN: So, well, the mob is where Donald Trump comes in, in his early years of being a developer in Manhattan. But go back even further, to the Rosenbergs, from before the McCarthy hearings.
MATT TYRNAUER: Sure. Roy Cohn cut his teeth in public life as the junior prosecutor in the Rosenberg spy case, which was an infamous trial of two Jewish Americans, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were accused of and convicted of sharing atomic secrets with the Soviet Union.ADVERTISEMENT
AMY GOODMAN: Conspiring to.
MATT TYRNAUER: Yes. And Cohn was among a group of Jewish lawyers and judges who were appointed to give the impression that it was not an anti-Semitic prosecution. He proved himself to be incredibly aggressive and very, very savvy at gaining publicity for himself and for the cause that he was pushing. And he is perhaps most famous in this for engaging in a very questionable collusion with the judge, who was Judge Kaufman. And Judge Kaufman, legend has it, would call Roy Cohn, the prosecutor in the case, outside of his synagogue, Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, to ask Roy Cohn, the junior prosecutor, for guidance on what kind of sentencing he should hand down. Roy Cohn—
AMY GOODMAN: And just to be clear, ex parte communications between a judge and a prosecutor are illegal.ADVERTISEMENT
MATT TYRNAUER: You said it. And Cohn was encouraging him, by Cohn’s own admission, to give the death penalty not only to Julius, who, it turned out, was indeed guilty, and Ethel, who was—no one’s ever proven guilt for. The couple were sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair. It was a truly traumatic moment for certainly the Jewish community of the United States, but also really the United States at large. And the film unearths footage, contemporary footage, that was actually very shocking to me. I didn’t realize how violent and emotional the protests were in the streets of New York City on the day of the execution.
AMY GOODMAN: And this was what? June 21st, 1953?
MATT TYRNAUER: That’s right. And Cohn at the time was, I believe, 23.ADVERTISEMENT
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, the message that was sent all over the country with the execution of this couple at Sing Sing, of putting them in the electric chair. Interestingly, you have a clip of Roger Stone, that we want to turn to right now, remembering what Roy Cohn said to him about their execution.
ROGER STONE: When you would try to get him to talk about Joe McCarthy or the Army-McCarthy trials or that whole period, J. Edgar Hoover, you couldn’t get much out of him. On the Rosenbergs, I asked him how he felt about it—I told him I’d read the case—and he said—and I quote—”If I could have pulled the switch, I’d have done it myself.” That doesn’t sound like remorse. I think Roy was a hard-liner to the end.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Roger Stone, from the documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, talking about Roy M. Cohn and the execution of the Rosenbergs. Matt Tyrnauer?ADVERTISEMENT
MATT TYRNAUER: It seemed to me that someone in their early twenties who had killed a mother of two, who was almost certainly not guilty of the crime for which she was convicted and murdered by the state, might have some feelings of remorse for this later in life, as he was on his own deathbed, for instance. I asked Stone that, and Stone gave the answer that you just saw in the film clip.
AMY GOODMAN: So let’s move forward, down to the McCarthy hearings in Washington. Roy M. Cohn becomes his right-hand man, famously—and you show this so beautifully in the film—constantly in the ear of McCarthy. You’ve got two sets of hearings. You’ve got the original McCarthy hearings, going after communists, and then you’ve got the Army-McCarthy hearings. And you describe this as an early reality TV, very Trumpian. Explain what took place.
MATT TYRNAUER: Army-McCarthy is a byword in our culture. The McCarthy era, of course, is the dictionary definition of witch hunting and demagoguery and the big lie in politics. The Army-McCarthy hearings’ details and the nuances, I really feel, have been lost to history and lost in the very porous education system we have in this country that just doesn’t teach history thoroughly. So I wanted to show a granular portrayal of this peculiar episode that occurred, that really riveted the nation at the dawn of the age of television.ADVERTISEMENT
What happens in the complex Army-McCarthy scenario is that Cohn is McCarthy’s protégé. Cohn, as a string puller and a favor doer, wants to do a particular favor for someone, a certain someone special to him, and that is a young man named G. David Schine, who was the scion of a wealthy hotel family and was just Roy Cohn’s type, sexually speaking, it turns out. Cohn, we haven’t mentioned yet, was gay and very deeply in the closet in this period. He clearly has a romantic crush on David Schine and gets him on Joseph McCarthy’s committee as a junior aide. At a certain point in the Korean War period, David Schine is drafted into the Army as a private. This incenses not only David Schine, but Roy Cohn. So, Cohn, who was powerful at the time, but not as powerful as he thought he was, did what every wealthy, spoiled child might do, except this one happened to be occupying a Senate post: He called the secretary of the Army, and he threatened the secretary of the Army. And he said, “Either David Schine is given a commission as a general, not a private, and posted in the penthouse of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York,” the city that Roy Cohn—happened to be his hometown, “or we—Roy Cohn and Joseph McCarthy—will go after the Army and accuse them of being run by a secret gay, communist cabal.”
The Army didn’t react well to this bizarre threat coming from a relative political nobody, the one with great connections and a connection to the leading demagogue of the day, Joseph McCarthy. So the Army pushed back. And we have to remember also that the president at the time was an Army man: Dwight Eisenhower was a general. And he didn’t say much at the time, but behind the scenes was—didn’t like these accusations being leveled against his branch of the military.
So, what unfolds then is, I believe, the first instance of reality television—unwitting reality television. I think TV, in its infancy, was trying to find its footing, and whatever was good spectacle and whatever would get people to tune in flew at the time. This was an open, televised hearing with a sensationalistic charge and a secret homosexual subplot. It made the stuff of perfect television drama, really, although no one really knew what was going to happen. It was an open-ended narrative, which really is the definition of reality TV.ADVERTISEMENT
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the—really, the climax of these hearings, with the counsel for the secretary of the Army.
MATT TYRNAUER: What ended up happening was the Army lawyered up and went after McCarthy and Cohn. And they hired a very good lawyer, a very folksy, telegenic, avuncular man who was a Boston Brahmin attorney named Joseph Welch. Welch played his cards beautifully on TV and in the hearing room here, and he paced himself. He sort of let his fellow questioners pick apart this bizarre scenario. McCarthy and Cohn are demagoguing and trying to show that there are communists and gays in the Army and that they’re bad for the United States and bringing down the republic and the democracy, basically. The Army was able to poke holes in that.
Eventually, near the end, McCarthy sees he’s losing this battle, and he wants to fight back. There had been a backroom deal made at a certain point that one of the people that they were going to drag through the mud was an associate of Welch’s in his Boston law firm who may or may not have been a member of a group that may or may not have had some communist leanings. It wasn’t even a communist front. It was really nothing, as most of the charges McCarthy leveled were. And Cohn had told Welch, “I’ll trade you not implicating this guy for something else.” And McCarthy missed that meeting, and he started to bring this young man’s name into the hearings on television.
And Welch realized that he had broken the agreement, and went after McCarthy. And he says words that turned out to be immortal—very few words, but they’ll always be remembered among anyone who is a student of history and even people who were casual TV viewers of the time. And it’s—I’ll miss some of these words, but it was basically, “Senator, you’ve done enough.” And he’s sort of winding up like a pitcher would wind up. “At long last, have you no sense of decency?”
JOSEPH WELCH: Look, you have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
MATT TYRNAUER: The Senate room—it’s the Russell hearing room of the Senate, which was where Anita Hill’s trial—hearing took place—bursts into applause. You can see McCarthy’s face just collapses, basically. He goes pale. And this caught the conscience of an entire nation, because of television, and it led to the very quick discrediting and downfall and eventual censure of Joseph McCarthy in the Senate. And it destroyed Roy Cohn, as well, as a Senate aide. And that really ended the McCarthy era—Joseph Welch. It should have ended Roy Cohn, but it did not.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Matt Tyrnauer, director of the new documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? When we come back, we’ll talk about how Roy Cohn ended up representing a young New York real estate developer named Donald Trump in the 1970s and how they became best friends. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting for the week from the Sundance Film Festival here in Park City, Utah, as we continue to look at the new documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? It looks at the man who mentored Donald Trump and Roger Stone. The film just premiered here at the Sundance Film Festival.
After Roy Cohn left Washington in disgrace in the 1950s, he became a prominent attorney in New York—a prominent mob attorney. His clients included the mob and a future president. Let’s go back to my interview with director Matt Tyrnauer.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s leap forward to his relationship with Donald Trump, how he came to know Donald Trump.
MATT TYRNAUER: So, Cohn has an immediate success as a lawyer in New York. And people have said to me, journalists have asked me, “How could someone so discredited worm his way to the top echelons of New York society after having crashed and burned so badly and humiliated himself and everyone around him in the McCarthy—in the Army-McCarthy period?” My answer is: Have you ever met New York society? It’s the most transactional place in the world. And Roy Cohn was the king of transactional relationships. I call him the CEO of the Favor Bank. And that’s the way he operated, and to great success, all through the ’60s, all through the early ’70s.
And there comes a day, a fateful day, when Roy Cohn, powerbroker, mob lawyer, meets a young man who was the just-starting-out son of a major real estate developer in Queens and Brooklyn named Donald J. Trump. Trump was pure outer-borough material. He had the money, but he didn’t have the status. He was considered to be very uncouth and was not welcome in the important places in New York City business and society, but he had a burning aspiration to rise to those levels. He did find his way to a chic nightclub at that time called Le Club, kind of Midtown East in Manhattan, which existed until relatively recently, in fact. In that kind of swingy, proto-disco environment, he meets the famous Roy Cohn.
At that precise moment, the Justice Department was going after Trump’s father and Trump himself, who was a junior partner in the Trump family real estate business, for racial discrimination. At the time, it was very provable that the Trump housing company was taking the rental applications of minority applicants and marking them with a code word, which was C for colored, and then denying them rental apartments. The Justice Department was going to come down very hard on them, and Trump was worried and wanted to help his father and help himself out of this nasty predicament. He explained the predicament to Roy Cohn that night and said, “Hey, can you help me get out of this?” And Cohn said, “Absolutely. Come see me tomorrow morning.” Trump did. And Cohn, in the room with him, outlined a strategy for conquering this Justice Department suit against them, which really was the game plan that Trump followed every day for the rest of his life and into our own lives, in our daily lives now.
AMY GOODMAN: Fully provable that they were engaging in racist practices, but they never admitted it.
MATT TYRNAUER: That’s right. So, they settled. And settling is not technically an admission of guilt. Now, Trump says he never settles, but of course he settles all the time. And Cohn says he never settled or never pleaded, and he pleaded and settled all the time. But Cohn’s premise was never admit guilt, and a settlement isn’t an admission of guilt. And if you don’t admit guilt, you can go to the press and claim victory. Pure Roy Cohn.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Roy Cohn was not only his lawyer that he turned to, one of his lawyers, but he considered him one of his best friends.
MATT TYRNAUER: He was his consigliere and best friend. In Cohn’s eyes, he, in the film, on an interview that he gives in the early ’80s, brags that Donald Trump, in a letter to him, says that he’s his best friend.
AMY GOODMAN: When Trump buys the Bonwit Teller Building, this massive concrete building, historic, and then, in its place, builds Trump Tower, talk about the blueprint, basically, that involves the mob and Roy Cohn.
MATT TYRNAUER: The Trump Tower story is exemplary. It just sets the pattern for the way Trump and the Trump Organization did business. And again, it’s torn from the playbook of Roy Cohn. It probably didn’t need to be this way, but corners were cut to generate maximum profits. And I think it was also in that time in New York, just part of what you did as a skullduggerer to kind of get the mafia involved and, you know, get special privileges to speed up construction, etc., etc., etc. So, this was a really corrupt project. And I want to give credit to the journalist David Cay Johnston, who was doing this reporting in real time back in the ’80s and has been chronicling the bad business dealings of the Trump Organization for years. And we rely on an interview with David Cay Johnston in the film to explain how something was very peculiar about the construction of Trump Tower, which Roy Cohn helped Donald Trump achieve and engineer. And Trump—or, rather, Cohn shows off a letter from Trump thanking him for allowing the fast realization of the Trump Tower project.
A few things in particular, though. Trump Tower is built of concrete. Buildings in the ’80s in New York were very rarely built of concrete. They were built of structural steel usually, which was a much more efficient way to build. And one reason it was more efficient was that the mob at the time controlled the poured concrete contract business, and you need to pay off the mob. And also the mob, in a bit of subtle skullduggery, controlled the unions, so the unions could close the construction fences and keep the cement mixers waiting to come into the construction site and ruin your cement and cost you, you know, millions of dollars, basically. But, indeed, this building went up made of concrete, because Roy Cohn, according to Johnston’s reporting, introduced Trump to all of his mafioso connections, that allowed this project to go forward without any interruptions.
There was another very famous thing, which also, I believe, Hillary Clinton brought up in the campaign, which was that the Bonwit Teller Building, which was the building that preceded Trump Tower on that site, was demolished by a group of illegal immigrants called the Polish Brigade, that were brought down to New York City from Rochester, New York. Trump never paid them. So, not only was he employing illegal immigrants and not paying appropriate taxes and having any accountability on that way back in the ’70s and ’80s, but he was also stiffing people. Again, pure Roy Cohn. Cohn was an expert tax evader and a stiffer of contractors. And he, Trump, Donald Trump, really learned this, it’s thought, from Cohn.
AMY GOODMAN: So we take this story, decades later, to just this week, where The New York Times and Washington Post are reporting on undocumented immigrants who work at the Westchester golf course of President Trump. And though they were honored for being best employee repeatedly, one by one, they were called in, and they were fired. They are speaking out and saying the Trumps full well knew that they didn’t have the proper documents.
MATT TYRNAUER: Yes. I mean, so much of the film really is connecting the dots and giving even more truth to the famous George Santayana aphorism, “Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.” I also like to quote Gore Vidal, who used to say we live in the “United States of Amnesia.” All of this has precedent, and sometimes very literal precedent. The same people perpetrating the same misdeeds or crimes are telling the same lies and untruth. They’ve been proven and reported on for years, and yet it’s occurring again, now on an international scale with really terrifying long-term consequences.
AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go back to your interview with Roger Stone in 2017, where he once again quotes Roy Cohn.
ROGER STONE: Roy famously argued that all of the expenses of his law firm were—you know, were deductible. The IRS did not see it this way. Roy told me that the whole point of dealing with the IRS was to die owing them as much as humanly possible.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Roger Stone. Matt Tyrnauer?
MATT TYRNAUER: So, there’s a great interview with Mike Wallace and Roy Cohn, where Wallace says to Cohn, “You’re a tax avoider,” and Cohn indignantly says, “We’re all tax avoiders. The president is a tax avoider.” Of course, the president that Cohn’s talking about at that moment was Ronald Reagan. But when you watch it now, it has a certain resonance and ring to it. And then Wallace brilliantly says, “Well, you’re better at it than others.” And then Cohn says, “Well, don’t blame me for your inadequacies.”
Trump did the same thing in the debate with Hillary Clinton, where she assailed him of tax evasion, and he then leaned into the microphone and said, “That makes me smart.” And at that moment, my heart sank, because I thought, I could see that that would be a very populist one-liner in a debate, actually. Cohn got that. I mean, there’s something about the public that loves a scoundrel. And Cohn played that to the hilt. And I think Trump also took that persona from his mentor, Roy Cohn.
AMY GOODMAN: So now take us back to Roger Stone, the man who’s now just been indicted in the Mueller inquiry, and talk about the triumvirate here—Roy Cohn, Roger Stone and Donald Trump.
MATT TYRNAUER: One of the people I spoke to off camera about Roy Cohn and his relationship with Trump said to me, not jokingly, “Donald Trump is Roy Cohn.” And you could say that about Roger Stone. I think Roger Stone might say it about himself, actually. They swallowed Roy Cohn whole, in a certain way, and absorbed all of his incredible abilities at practicing the dark arts of manipulation of politics and media, and understanding the nexus between politics and media and how to operate those levers for really dark and selfish purposes. That’s really what Cohn’s mastery ended up being.
AMY GOODMAN: I think what you convey very well in this film is not just their manipulativeness, whether we’re talking about Trump or Stone or Cohn, but the utter cruelty, Roy Cohn willing to destroy lives, whether in his anti-communist crusade, his anti-LGBTQ crusade, even though he himself was a gay man. Ultimately he would die of AIDS, though he denied this, right? That he was dying of AIDS.
MATT TYRNAUER: Yes, he denied it consistently. He denied it on camera, off camera, publicly and privately.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, President Reagan and Nancy were his dear friends.
MATT TYRNAUER: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: President Reagan wouldn’t mention AIDS for something like seven years of his presidency. But in the very end of Roy Cohn’s life, you report that they got him into a special drug trial at the National Institutes of Health?
MATT TYRNAUER: Yes. I mean, this is one of the most bitter ironies and just really diabolical truths of Cohn’s life. He spearheaded, with McCarthy, the lavender scare in the ’50s, ruining the lives of LGBTQ people in government. Of course, he himself was one. So, that was bad enough. He, according to Nancy Reagan, helped her husband get elected, and actually was, perhaps, the key person, for a variety of reasons. The Reagans had many gay friends, but they were publicly and on a policy level as bad as you can be for gay rights and handling the HIV/AIDS plague at the time. Cohn appealed to them for special treatment as he was secretly dying of the disease. And Ronald and Nancy Reagan got him into an experimental treatment program at the NIH that very few people could get into. There are telegrams that we show on screen of Ronald Reagan, blithely ignoring the greatest public health crisis of our time, telegramming Roy Cohn, wishing him good health and godspeed as he gets out of the hospital and goes back home after a round of experimental treatment.
AMY GOODMAN: And then talk about how Donald Trump, the man who called Roy Cohn his best friend, how he dealt with Roy Cohn suffering from AIDS.
MATT TYRNAUER: Many people who were witnesses to the relationship cite that Trump did back away from Cohn when he was on his deathbed. At the same time, Cohn was disbarred, very late in his life, with almost, I think, weeks left to live. They managed, after decades of trying, at different levels of government, to get him disbarred. It was achieved. He had late-stage HIV illness at that time. And there are many accounts of him appealing to Trump for certain kinds of help and being nervous about what Trump would think. And then Trump did, according to his cousins, who were very much present at the time of Cohn’s illness, back away.
AMY GOODMAN: Left him to die alone, as many of Cohn’s friends did.
MATT TYRNAUER: Yes. I think this is the moral of the story of being a transactional person, in many ways. Cohn had many friends, but how true were these friends? They were friends that were gained through being a master of transactional living, transactional politics. He was a total transactional figure. When he had this terrible disease, which was a deeply ironic thing for him to die of, he lost a lot of friends, who were, I think, backing away because of these dual crises in his life—disbarment and an assured death of a terrible and, at that time, we have to remember, really extremely terrifying disease that was very little understood.
AMY GOODMAN: Which brings us now to the title of your film, Where’s My Roy Cohn? Talk about how you came up with it.
MATT TYRNAUER: “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” is not a question, it’s a complaint, issued by Trump in the White House in 2017, when I think he first felt the walls of the Mueller investigation closing in on him. I don’t think he could have predicted the length of this. I think he thought he would short-circuit it, and he was hoping that a Roy Cohn type would help him short-circuit it.
He was not able to find that in the person of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, or his White House counsel, both of whom have left office. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of someone in the executive branch that the attorney general or the White House counsel serves him personally: These are the employees of a dictator; these aren’t the employees of an elected president of the United States. The attorney general represents the people. The Justice Department represents the interests of the United States. The people are sovereign in the United States. The president is not sovereign. I’m not sure anyone’s been able to explain that to Donald Trump.
But Roy Cohn taught him that he was sovereign. Roy Cohn behaved as if he was sovereign, Roy Cohn was sovereign. And he convinced Trump that if you follow that playbook of ultimate selfishness and ends justifying means, that you could get away with anything. Roy Cohn almost did. It’s Shakespearean and irredeemable, his end, but he has given us this delayed re-emergence of demagoguery that is the result of a seed he planted in the early ’80s, I would say, and has come back to haunt us in a really unimaginable way.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt Tyrnauer, director of the new documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? It just premiered here at the Sundance Film Festival, where we’ll be broadcasting all week.
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