Ever wonder what it would have been like had Roy M. Cohn ever become President of the United States?
Nah, neither have we, but President Trump’s slash-and-destroy attack against former Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch was pure Roy M. Cohn. It was exactly what Roy Cohn would have advised. For a moment, it was as though the ghost of Cohn had ascended to the Oval Office. Roy M. Cohn, a dwindling number of our readers may recall, was the vicious, disbarred protégé of the late, infamous, Senator Joseph McCarthy. Roy Cohn has, with good reason, been reviled by almost everyone who ever studied him, or had the misfortune of crossing paths with him—with the notable exceptions of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and, of course, President Donald J. Trump.
In fact, President Trump’s, now standard, slash-and-destroy tactic aimed at just about anyone who opposes him, or who he thinks stands in his way (think the late Senator John McCain, or Gold-star parent Khizr Khan, or journalists Charles Krauthammer or Megan Kelly or General James Mattis or former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, etc., etc.) is precisely how Roy Cohn conducted his career, and, reportedly advised his friend Donald Trump to conduct his.
Roy Cohn made no bones about it. Cohn, when he was alive, and DonaldTrump were a mutual admiration society. Cohn’s signature strategy of viciously and personally attacking opponents has become President Trump’s predictable response to anyone who dares confront him or whom he deems an opponent or an enemy.
Now comes American diplomat and former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. By any reasonable measure, Ambassador Yovanovitch is among the most admirable members of the United States Foreign Service. She comes from a well-respected family that fled both Communist and Nazi treachery and has, herself, represented America in some of the most challenging and, sometimes, dangerous areas of the world including, Somalia, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and, most recently Ukraine.
Ambassador Yovanovitch was unceremoniously fired from her post in Kiev by President Trump because Rudy Giuliani and two self-dealing, now indicted, Giuliani pals, Lev Parmas and Igor Fruman, both apparently recruited from central casting, wanted her out of the way. There is no plausible justification that we can find for this exercise in stupidity.
Why would they want her out of the way? Probably because she would not participate in President Trump’s campaign strategy to coerce Ukraine’s newly elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky, into launching an investigation into Trump’s presidential opponent, Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. They wanted her gone and President Trump fired her clumsily and rather ignorantly. President Trump, in an astounding tweet while Ambassador Yovanovitch was testifying earlier this week, inferred that she was responsible for the continued mess that is Somalia and the mess that was Ukraine. His tweet was so inane, and frankly, so childish and so embarrassing that it warrants no elaboration. It made one valid point. The President can fire anyone, and so he did. He referred to her in his telephone call with President Zelensky as “bad news” and, ominously, told the Ukranian President that “she was going to go through some things.”
All of this embarrassing foolishness is the result of a bad idea gone bad. We’re not so sure that impeachment is the best course of action for dealing with the President’s rather transparent attempt to coerce a foreign head-of-state into launching an investigation into a political opponent. Impeachment, or more accurately, conviction, is almost certain to fail in the Senate. A failed impeachment attempt can, history teaches, redound to the benefit of the accused in a presidential election. Should that occur and President Trump win re-election in the electoral college, Democrats will be self-flagellating and Republicans will be gloating for years to come.
Frankly, we find the President’s firing of Ambassador Yovanovitch, and his subsequent twitter attack against her, as disturbing as the pressure he applied to Ukrainian President Zelensky. The pressure (some say the bribe) with respect to President Zelensky was crude and crass to be sure, but the attack—the attempted destruction of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s reputation for no reason other than to manufacture a political campaign issue, was thoroughly vicious, thoroughly unwarranted and thoroughly Roy Cohn.
Some will say, “oh, that’s just Trump being Trump—no big deal. Well, no, that’s really Trump being Cohn, and that is a big deal.