“Love is Not Ill-Mannered; Love is Not Happy With Evil…” the Apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

 

 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2019 was marked by two trains running, at top speed toward each other. The phrase, borrowed from the August Wilson play Two Trains Running from his Pittsburgh Cycle of ten plays portraying the African American experience, painfully depicted the powerful forces at work around the Civil Rights movement in the mid-1960’s, at the time of the assassination of Malcolm X. It’s title is appropriate for describing what happened this month, more than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s own assassination.

 

A group of predominantly white Catholic boys from a Catholic High School in Kentucky traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in the March for Life—an annual gathering of opponents to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of January 22, 1973, which protected a women’s right to privacy on the enormously personal issue of deciding under what circumstances (for example, rape) and when to abort a fetus. The students made the trip with the full support of their Catholic school, which provided adult chaperones, and did nothing to discourage the teenaged boys from wearing Trump Campaign “Make America Great Again” hats, which have become a symbol of intolerance, misogyny, and racial and ethnic hatred, as Trump’s rhetoric on issues of race, women rights and keeping Mexicans and Muslims out of the USA has become more and more incendiary—reminiscent, in fact of the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant hate speech of the KKK throughout the last century..

 

This particular weekend of the MLKing Holiday 2019, the annual rally to protest Roe v. Wade—where Christian churches bus in thousands of protesters–coincided with the Women’s March , and with the 30th day of the Trump Shutdown of the US Government, over the issue of  building a border wall on the Mexican/American border to keep non-whites out of the country. Taking place at the same time around the Lincoln Memorial, long a symbol for racial equality, was a rally of Indigenous Peoples, attended by several prominent Native American leaders. As is frequently the case during major demonstrations in the Nation’s capitol, fringe groups pop up to spread their vile messages, like the so-called “Black Hebrew Israelites”, purveyors of homophobia, anti-Semitism and racial hatred.  They’ve been showing up in NYC’s Times Square for decades where they scream into a portable PA system and insult everyone who walks past them. No one—Blacks, Jews, Gays or law enforcement personnel– takes them seriously, since they are little more than deranged street theatre.

 

The trains traveling in opposite directions ran into each other on Martin Luther King weekend in Washington, DC., and the image that rocketed around the nation was of a pink-cheeked White Boy from the Kentucky Catholic School, wearing a “MAGA” hat, smirking at a Vietnam Veteran and Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, and surrounded by his laughing Catholic School classmates, all sporting red & white MAGA hats,  taunting the non-white Native American elder.

 

I’ve watched at least a dozen different videotapes on the encounter, read countless stories, and have been barraged by the blather put forth by the PR firm (yes, PR firm) hired by Catholic White Boy’s family, that he was a good, tolerant kid, just trying to keep the peace, encouraged by his adult chaperones to do so.   That message simply doesn’t square with the fact that he and his all-white friends from their privileged religious school, kept their MAGA hats on throughout the entire encounter, with not one student—nor an adult guiding them—recognizing that to non-whites in this country MAGA hats have become the symbolic Swastika or Confederate Flag of the 21stCentury.  To whine for sympathy while continuing to wear those symbols of hate, is to throw sand into the eyes of the nation.

 

Still worse, is the fact that none of these teenage boys—nor their adult chaperones from the Kentucky Catholic School, nor the school administrators—seem to have learned or understood the Apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, 13, where he writes:

 

“ Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous, or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered, or selfish, or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up: it’s faith, hope and patience never fail….Meanwhile, these three remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”

 

Perhaps if these good Catholic boys studied and understood the words of Christ and his Apostle more, or read the Twitter Feed of Trump less, they might become better humans, and truly make American greater and more humane than its’ ever been.  Or, they could just follow the peaceful, love-driven actions of Nathan Phillips, Vietnam Veteran, who was fulfilling the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the teachings of Paul on a holiday weekend intended for service to others—an inclusive message at the center of Catholicism.

American Ninja Father

 

 

My two oldest granddaughters, ages 9 and 7, are obsessed with the TV programs American Ninja Warrior Junior and American Ninja Warrior.  

 

Since their father, my son, restricts their screen time, they make the most of the limited windows of opportunity they have to watch the tube. They scream like cheerleaders for their favorite competitors—girl, boy or adult.    The obstacles put in the way of each contestant are always physical:  swinging on ropes, swinging on a big “hot dog,” (as their 3-year old sister describes one game), climbing walls, or swimming under water and opening doors.

 

This past week, they were bummed when a young adult with an asthmatic condition missed winning the contest by a few seconds, slowed under water by shortness of breath.  Yet, right under their noses, there was another Ninja Warrior with a breathing problem who was vanquishing obstacles right and left, as they popped up in all forms, physical and emotional.

 

Their dad has inherited my sinus condition, and has layered on top of it a few allergies, a slight asthmatic condition and three daughters, each of whom makes their own set of demands on his attention and time.  I was a pretty good father, but he is far, far, far better and always present for them in all things, big and small.

 

Earlier in the day of their Ninja disappointment, their father dealt with a back-upped toilet, and an ant invasion—the kind of obstacles you never see in competition game shows on TV.

 

Then, a few hours later, we all went out to dinner, heading to a favorite pizza and pasta place.  All three girls were very excited.  We arrived at the no-reservations place shortly after they started serving dinner, and there was an hour-long wait.  Undeterred and still in high spirits, we walked up the block to another pizza/pasta place, and discovered there was no open table for 3 hours.

 

The girls started to whine and moan about being hungry, and while we walked back to the Honda Odyssey which would carry us all home, the girls’ grandmother tripped and fell while she was holding the 3-year old tightly in her arms.  We were all momentarily stunned, and the American Ninja father soothed the frightened feelings of all three of his daughters who were worried about the safety of their baby sister and their Grammy.

 

We piled into the car for the odyssey home, while the American Ninja Father quickly ran through several strategies to overcome the latest obstacle put in our path.  Remarkably, and while breathing deeply to keep his cool, he fashioned a way toward the finish line, while the youngest was insisting upon pasta, “because I fell,” and the two older girls were howling over being hungry.  These obstacles had teeth and tempers.

 

We walked in the front door of his house, and the American Ninja Father set a world record for sprinting to the stove and simultaneously whipping up a dinner of scrambled eggs, croissant rolls and pasta for dinner.  The obstreperous obstacles had been tamed, and the day had been saved.  For the American Ninja Father, operating without the glare of TV cameras or the financial rewards of winning a commercial competition, it was just another day, as tomorrow would be.

 

 

Trump, Tabloid TV & The Truth

 

I had trouble sleeping last night.

 

I made the mistake of viewing Leslie Stahl’s October 14, 2018, “60 Minutes” Interview on-line, before bedtime, and it gave me a terrible case of agita all night long.

 

Here was Trump, back for the second time in two years, with an A-list TV journalist, Leslie Stahl, who confers credibility upon the subjects of her interviews.  Just appearing on camera with her elevates the Self Made Fraud’s status, and he knows it.

 

Trump dominated his time on the Tube with his endless stream of lies—lies that flow as endlessly as his breath—and Stahl’s comebacks were too little, too infrequent, or non existent. Here are just a few examples:

 

 

  • Trump matter-of-factly lied about the country being more divisive under Obama, and Stahl failed to question the lie, or demand proof;

 

  • Trump bragged about being responsible for the best economy in the nation’s history; Stahl failed to point out that it has been a 10-year long recovery, started under Obama, following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, when unemployment hit 10% as Obama took office;

 

  • Trump made light of getting his Mob during his Mississippi Hate Speech to laugh at Dr. Ford, and despite Stahl’s pushing back on his inhumanity in doing so, she was silent in the face of Trump’s justification that it was payback for the treatment of Kavanaugh.  When Trump voiced the rich, white man’s lament that Kavanaugh’s life was “ruined,” Stahl failed to ask “What about Dr. Ford?”  She also failed to mention the 100,000 documents on Kavanaugh’s background that were suppressed, or the severe limits place upon the FBI’s investigation, or the recently filed formal judicial complaints against Kavanaugh by a number of Federal Judges.

 

  • In the context of Trump’s verbal abuse of Dr. Ford where he openly mocked her before his own angry Mississippi Mob, Stahl failed to bring up the charges of sexual harassment or abuse against Trump by 19 women, all of whom he has dismissed as “liars.”  Stahl also failed to ask Trump why he always sides with men accused of sexual assault or harassment (Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Rob Porter, Judge Roy Moore, and Brett Kavanaugh).

 

  • Stahl failed to question Trump about the in-depth New York Times investigative report about the Trump family’s massive tax evasion scheme going back 30 years, and their scheme of defrauding federal, state and NYC taxpayers as well as illegally raising the rents on their own tenants for decades.

 

  • Stahl failed to ask Trump about the allegations in the new book out by a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter documenting Trump’s decades long relationship with the Russian Mafia, and the Mueller indictments of many Russian Oligarchs and organizations;

 

  • Trump stonewalled about the Saudis murder of a Washington Post Journalist  and American resident, and Stahl failed to ask him the obvious question of whether his own “Enemy of The People,”  Stalin-esque rants vs. journalists and specifically, the Washington Post,  might have emboldened the Saudi Prince to order the brutal murder of this journalist;

 

  • Stahl failed to question the Kushner & Trump financial entanglements with the Saudis, and how that might be impacting Trump’s own response to the case; She also failed to press on the issue of whether US Intelligence officials knew ahead of time of the threats on the journalist’s life, and what information, if any, Jared Kushner may have shared with the Saudis.

 

  • Stahl asked Trump for a”pledge” not to fire Robert Mueller, and when he refused to give it, she failed to follow-up with a question on the guilty pleas, indictments and convictions of his former Campaign Manager, National Security Director, top aides and personal attorney.

 

  • Trump claimed to know more about NATO’s importance to world peace than Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Stahl failed to challenge Trump on that empty assertion.

 

Tragically, Leslie Stahl’s gift of free prime-time television to Trump, reminded me of Meredith Viera’s similarToday Show gift seven years ago, when the Self Made Fraud lied to her about having sent investigators to Hawaii to dig up information on Obama,  “proving” he wasn’t born in the USA.  Viera, a kind-hearted, good soul,unaccustomed to such bald-face lying on national television by the people she interviewed, blinked incredulously a few times—like a deer in the headlights– but did not challenge Trump’s lies, giving him the golden opportunity to launch his pernicious and racist  “birther movement,” during breakfast  to millions of Today’s viewers.

 

Trump, a creation of tabloid tawdriness and fictitious TV over-exposure, intuitively understands the same thing about American television that trial lawyers–like his scummy chum Roy Cohn–understand about juries: say anything, and it cannot be unheard. In a fast-moving TV interview, there is no judge to overrule such lies; only a journalist, overwhelmed by the time constraints of the medium. In fractions of seconds, an impression is made, and when repeated often enough, it takes on the trappings of truth. Trump knows this better than anyone since Roger Ailes—the man who sold a repackaged Richard Nixon to the nation in 1968– and he has Bill Shine—the sex abuse apologist from Fox News—at his side each day to reinforce it.

 

With the stakes so high for all of us who believe in human decency, the importance of truth and the rule of law, the solutions for good journalists and credible media organizations are draconian: deny Trump airtime altogether until he stops lying, or call him out on every single lie, each and every time he or a member of his administration utters one. Only ABC’s George Stephanopolous, CNN’s Chris Cuomo,  and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and a handful of others have shown a willingness to do this among television journalists.

 

Alternatively, we can continue to push hard to have Trump’s lifetime of lies and fraud tested in Courts of law at the national, state and local levels and before Grand Juries, as well as in the court of public opinion at the polls.  Trump knows full well that each of those remedies take more time than a quickie TV interview, and that his constant hate speech, lying, and inhumane public polices can do enormous damage to individuals and institutions before any final verdict comes in, and while his cash flow continues.

 

Years after the public grew tired of The Apprentice, NBC cancelled it, yet the corrosive effect of brainless, low cost/high profit “reality” programming on television—and on public life—is still being felt.   Television adapted and survived, with many viewers changing the channel to other forms of entertainment, like HBO and Showtime, and now Amazon.  The question is, can democracy survive the onslaught of a fact-free universe, fast and obscene amounts of money, and increasing inhumanity, and if it doesn’t, what alternative form of government will we turn to?

 

Enlisting for Life in the Fight for Women

 

The closest Mario Cuomo ever came to running for President was during the United States Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, in October, 1991.

Cuomo was so furious over the timidity of the Democrats, who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time—Chaired by Senator Joe Biden—and their failure to leap to Anita Hill’s defense, that it almost pushed him into the 1992 Presidential race. Cuomo was outraged over how terribly he believed women—personified by the dignified Professor Hill—were being mistreated by Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee, how the Democrats failed to stop the GOP bullying of her, and how they didn’t make Professor Hill’s war into their own.

I thought of Cuomo’s visceral reaction to the Thomas Hearings while I was watching the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.  I carefully listened to the wrenching testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, sometimes choking back tears at the pain she had endured as a 15-year old girl, and the trauma that haunted her for the next 36 years.  I intuitively understood Dr. Ford’s years of repressing a bad memory, since I had done the same thing for more than three decades concerning a gun-related incident in my own family, that did not involve sexual abuse, only uncontrolled anger.

So when Judge Kavanaugh descended into raw aggression and a toddler-like tantrum from the beginning of his testimony, I again thought of my father’s out-of-control temper as his way of trying to bull himself through any bad news.  Only, my father wasn’t a federal judge, nor a nominee for the highest court in the nation.  He was a working stiff, a maintenance man, with a drinking problem, and all of his children bore scars from his explosive anger.

Instead, here was Kavanaugh, a spoiled, Prep School rich boy, who lived a gilded-life like the President who nominated him, and chose to answer an allegation of sexual abuse and attempted rape with the kind of aggressiveness and uncontrolled behavior some of his high school and college peers remembered about him.  Only this time, he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, which made his ugly un-judgelike behavior even more bizarre.

Kavanaugh’s outburst also stripped bare his inherent partisan hatchet-man role, and his fealty to conspiracy theories.  He channeled Donald Trump when he screamed at Democratic Senators for never getting over Trump’s election, and went after the Clinton’s for a “revenge-grudge” against him.  Odd, since it was Kavanaugh, as an assistant to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Star, who spent two years and three million dollars pursuing a nut-case conspiracy theory that the Clintons were behind the suicide of Vince Foster.

But Kavanaugh’s crazed carrying-on was not the only distressing part of the Senate Judiciary Committee showdown between Dr. Ford and Trump’s mini-me.   The failure of Senate Democrats to get equally emotional and hard edged was just as disturbing.  I could hear Mario Cuomo’s voice in the back of my head, raising the following questions:

  •  Why the hell didn’t at least one Democratic Senator put the bullying Kavanaugh in his place, and tell him that HE was under investigation, NOT them?
  •  Why didn’t the Democratic Senators have a cross-examination strategy?  Why didn’t all the Democrats cede their time to the two female Prosecutor Senators among them, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar—the Senators who made Kavanaugh most uncomfortable—to have a consistent, continuous and coordinated cross-examination?
  • ·Why didn’t the Ranking Minority Member on the Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein, object on Personal Points of Privilege EVERY time any GOP Senator referred to or disparaged her. Feinstein, my own Senator whom I am supporting for re-election,  should have insisted on speaking and correcting GOP lies each time they misrepresented what she did with Dr. Ford’s letter, and should have dared Grassley to shut her up.
  •  Why didn’t Richard Blumenthal use his great quote on “credibility” to bring up Kavanaugh’s lack of credibility in his past testimony and his lying, under oath, about stolen Democratic documents, and the Bush Administration’s torture policy?

 

  •   Why did Democratic Senators quietly sit by and not scream Points of Order, when Senator Lindsey Graham unilaterally took another 5 minutes—after ceding his 5 minutes to Phoenix Sex Crimes Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell?
  •  Why did Senator Mazie Hirono not scream out “Point of Order,” at Judiciary Committee Grassley when the GOP abandoned the use of  Prosecutor Mitchell despite Senator Grassley’s commitment to Hirono and all Senators that ALL GOP Senators had ceded their time to Prosecutor Mitchell to cross-examine Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh?
  •  Why didn’t one single Democrat leap to Senator Klobuchar’s defense when the overly aggressive, nasty Kavanaugh sneered at her and asked if SHE  ever became “black out” drunk?
  •  And why did not one Democratic Senator raise the issue of how Kavanaugh’s aggressive, out-of-control manner, behavior and histrionics were exactly like the aggressive behavior of every out-of-control alcohol driven sexual predator?

I remembered Mario Cuomo’s white-hot anger at injustice on this historic day of testimony by Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh. I could see Anita Hill’s quiet dignity in the face of a cascade of insults from crapulent white men, satisfied in their own self-righteousness.   I thought of all of that, and of the bright, hopeful eyes of my three young granddaughters, and resolved even more to fight with my last breath to repair the world for them.

Humanity & Inhumanity

 

I was not going to write of memories, still too painful to bear, of 9/11.

I was just going to post the picture taken by Carol of me and our son Matt, when he is 5 years old, and we are standing on the deck of the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers are benignly winking at us in the background. I wasn’t going to say any more.

Then my son, asked me to fill in some of his remembrances of that terrible time, and it brought so much rushing back, not counting the six years I spent in Tower Number Two of the World Trade Center, sleeping over in my office during snowstorms, when I worked with Governor Mario M. Cuomo, on the 57th Floor. The most tortuous night terrors I still have are of the days after, with the rubble of the Towers still simmering, bodies melted inside, when Carol and I walked 70 blocks from our Uptown apartment, to get near the mass gravesite and pay our respects.

Stupidly, we stopped at St. Vincent’s Hospital on W. 14th Street, to see the thousands of 8 ½ x 11 “Missing” photos of peoples lovers and children lost in the attack; an entire wall of the hospital, now gone, covered with humanity, incinerated. Young faces smiled out at me from the photos, and in each bright smile, I saw my son’s face, and cried uncontrollably at the thought of losing him, and the unimaginable losses of the parents who lost their children, smiling at them forever, from the walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital, or from the deepest recesses of their hearts.

Then, I read the White House’s website this morning, on the Anniversary of the tragedy, saw the photos of an insanely insensitive Trump raising two clenched fists as he approached the mournful crowd, and saw the news reports of Trump presiding over a Memorial Service, and my unending grief turned to unbridled anger.

In 2001, Donald Trump, New York businessman, took advantage of the deaths of the nearly 3,000 human beings he calls upon us to remember today, by sucking $150,000 out of a 9/11 Emergency Relief Fund meant for small businesses that suffered in the immediate aftermath of the attack. The Trump Organization was neither a small business, nor suffered from the 9/11 attack. This was after the soul-less cipher bragged that his building at 40 Wall Street–now that the two Towers were destroyed–was the tallest building in NYC.

He never apologized for his insensitivity, never gave the money back he stole from 9/11 survivors, never offered to pay for the school costs, or mental-health counseling costs of the chlldren of those damned to death in the Twin Towers that day. Trump used that unfathomable tragedy to his own personal benefit in his typically grotesque way, by profiting from the hardships of others.

A human being, with the faintest heartbeat, would have apologized, paid that money back and redoubled his efforts to comfort the families of those forever lost to us in the attack on 9/11. I am angry when I look at Trump’s smug face, and am reminded of the photos of all the young, beautiful faces, full of life — photos that ripped my heart out 17 years ago. I think of their faces — bright lives I can never forget — and my fury at Trump’s inhumanity, is made even deeper by my despair, which knows no end.

The Fake Mafia Don

 

There is something eerily familiar about Donald Trump’s avalanche of thuggish attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI, the Rule of Law, and standard prosecutorial tactics like getting witnesses to “flip” on bigger criminals, and his rabid ranting about “rats.”

 

The cascade of cringing complaints sound exactly like my brother’s whining, when he was sentenced to prison as a bagman for John Gotti, for not paying income taxes on the illicit money he collected for the Gambino Family crime boss.

 

Trump, who hung around with New York’s mobsters — including Gotti and John Cody, associates of my brother Michael’s — always wanted to be thought of as “tough,” like they were. He never wanted them to know he lived a soft, coddled life, chauffered back and forth to private school in his mother’s rose colored Rolls Royce. He cursed and used Mob lingo, echoing my brother and his friends with their bitter attacks on the “Feds” and the “fuckin’ gov’ment.” But the Mob guys, not bullshit artists like Trump, knew that the make-believe Don was nothing more than a blowhard — a light-haired, lightweight, little rich boy, who pretended that using four-letter words made him a Gangster.

 

Like Trump, the real mobsters of the Gambino and Genovese crime families who swirled around our family for decades, cursed the government and the FBI more intensely as the charges against them became more real, and their prison sentences became a certainty. My brother continued to bad-mouth the FBI and the “fuckin’ gov’ment” even afterhe got out of prison. He spoke as virulently about “rats” and people who “broke” and “stand-up-guys,” with the same vehemence that Trump now does. The more they saw themselves portrayed in “The Godfather,” or “Goodfellas,” or later in the “Sopranos,” the more they felt validated in the Mob life they lived.

 

Trump was, and still is, a punk-wannabe among punks: an amoral actor doing business with amoral peers. My brother’s mobbed-up friends repeatedly demonstrated that they had zero respect for the fake, little Lord Fauntleroy Don. They knew they could squeeze him for as much as they wanted, since all that mattered to Trump was money. That’s a language understood very well by organized crime — whatever dialect was spoken by the Gambino, Genovese, Scarfo or Russian criminal enterprises. It’s also a way of life deeply understood by Robert Mueller, who devoted his stellar law enforcement career developing great expertise — and extraordinary results — in holding such criminal enterprises accountable to the law.

 

Before indictments, convictions, guilty verdicts, and plea deals began tumbling down upon Donald Trump and his associates like a ton of cheap cement — including the direct implication of the Fake Don himself in federal crimes by his former trusted fixer Michael Cohen — many of us were baffled as to how long the ultimate target of several criminal investigations involving the Russians and his own corrupt business dealings, could get away with his lunatic, erratic, racist, fanatical behavior, false claims about “fake” news, and histrionic attacks on the FBI and every federal law enforcement and intelligence agency.

 

That same kind of charade worked for a few other real crime family bosses, until members of Robert Mueller’s FBI investigative team induced Sammy “The Bull” Gravano — a man who murdered 19 people — to “flip” and provide evidence to convict John Gotti of still greater crimes. After the Boss of the Gambino crime family was put away for life, Mueller’s men enticed the same Gravano to come out of the safety of witness protection and testify again; this time, that Mob Boss Vinnie “The Chin” Gigante was totally lucid, and his insane behavior had all been an act.

 

Gigante, like Gotti, was convicted on Gravano’s testimony and sentenced to life in prison, where he died. Mueller, his crack law enforcement professionals , and the FBIwere thus responsible for ending the reign of two of the most feared mobsters in the United States, and they did it by “flipping” others for evidence of crimes committed. Rudy Giuliani, a former organized prosecutor himself, should remember that, even though he now relishes playing the real-life role of the Fake Don’s Mafia consiglieri, as if he’s auditioning for a Mob movie.

 

In my book, Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother(Heliotrope Books, NY) I write about the Trump family’s incestuous relationship with organized crime, and how my brother knew many of the mob guys Trump did business with, who joked that they could make the bleached hair of the heir of Fred Trump’s construction business stand on end, getting whatever they wanted from him.

 

It’s a lesson that was also not lost on Russian mobsters, like Felix Sater, Trump’s partner in his SoHo hotel, and a many of his wealthy, well-connected oligarch friends. As we’re learning, it was also a neon-lighted road map for Vladimir Putin.

 

In Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, Wayne Barrett wrote that in addition to attending Roy Cohn-arranged meetings with Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Gambino Boss Paul Castellano to make deals on purchasing concrete for his construction projects, Cohn also represented Trump in meetings with another key New York construction industry player during the 1980’s — convicted labor racketeer John Cody.

 

Cody, another one of my brother’s associates, at the peak of his power in the mid-1970s through 1982, was no small operator. As President of Teamster Local 282, Cody controlled 4,000 drivers of delivery trucks in New York City and Long Island. He had the power to bring to a grinding halt the multi-billion dollar construction industry. He could shut down any construction project in New York, including Trump Tower, by pulling out his drivers. Cody told Barrett: “Donald liked to deal with me through Roy Cohn.” Barrett reported that Trump did, however, have to deal directly with John Cody’s girlfriend, Vernia Hixon, to whom Trump gave a sweetheart deal for several apartments, one floor beneath his own penthouse in Trump Tower.

 

Despite his posturing as a New York power player, Trump cowered in front of John Cody, behaving more like a bagman, than a big man. As recently as October, 2016 — less than one month before the Presidential election — Cody’s son, Michael, told Christopher Dickey and Michael Daly of The Daily Beast how Donald gave Cody whatever he wanted: “Trump was a guy who would talk tough, but as soon as you confronted him, he would cry like a little girl. He was all talk, no action.”

 

John Cody made sure Trump took good care of his special friend Vernia Hixon, who lived directly under Trump’s penthouse. The mobster funneled some $500,000 to Hixon for renovations of her apartments, while he was in jail for racketeering and income tax evasion. When Trump balked at fulfilling some of his promises to Cody’s girlfriend, Barrett reported that “Cody and Hixon cornered him in a nearby bar and got his agreement.”

 

“Anything for you, John,” was Hixon’s recollection of Trump’s comments to John Cody. “Anything for you.”

 

Trump was so terrified of crossing Cody that at one point, when Cody called Trump from prison to complain about construction problems on Hixon’s apartments, Barrett reported that “Trump greeted him nervously on the phone. “Where are you?” Trump asked. “Downstairs?”

My father walked all over Trump.” Michael Cody told The Daily Beast.

“Anytime Trump didn’t do what he was told, my father would shut down his job for the day. No deliveries. 400 guys sittin’ around.”

 

To John Cody and his colleagues, Donald Trump was just another patsy, who did whatever the mob guys asked to keep them happy. He was in business with these guys, had buildings to complete, and they had fortunes to make. Cooperating with the FBI or federal and state law enforcement officials to clean up the mobbed-up NY construction trades industry was not in Donald Trump’s self-interest. Making money was.

 

Nothing has changed in the Fake Mafia Don’s behavior. Although Trump holds the nation’s highest elected office, he acts exactly the same way toward the Russian mob and its’ international criminal empire as he did with the New York and Philadelphia Mob families. See no evil, speak no evil — especially if your business, your addiction to money, power, adulation, and your self-interests, are wholly dependent upon the mobsters under investigation. Anybody threatening your criminal enterprise is labeled an enemy of the people — your people, who, like Trump, have always operated outside of the rules of law.

 

The only question left for the Fake Don is, how much he can get away with destroying before he’s forced to “flip” himself, to stay out of prison — a place my brother and his real-life Mob associates were willing to go for a while, as the price for doing their dirty business. The Fake Don is terrified of jail — especially since there are so many Blacks and Latinos there now — and he’ll use the Presidency, everyone around him, and every American institution, as leverage for self-preservation. It’s all that’s ever mattered to him.