Sympathy? For the Felon?
Michael Cohen emerged into a phalanx of 20-inch necks and watchful eyes.
The NYPD had its best people out in front of the courthouse.
My first response was delight that Cohen had to walk the perp walk, the felon walk, in front of the cameras, in front of the world.
This is, after all, the same chap who once rang up a reporter working on a story and threatened to do something “f------ disgusting” to him. The same fixer who zestfully helped Trump become Grifter-in-Chief.
The threats and payoffs seemed to come naturally to both of them.
I noted Cohen’s well-clad family, now shaken by a three-year sentence, and I felt no sympathy. They must have known the line of work he was in.
My glee at the downfall of this enabler was tempered a bit on Wednesday by Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor, now a valuable contributor on MSNBC.
Rosenberg is a knowledgeable and stable presence – speaks softly, rarely even smiles, has no need to be cute, a pitfall for some regulars on the cable. He just knows stuff. And on Wednesday he made me feel (albeit temporarily) a bit guilty at my runaway case of schadenfreude.
MSNBC does not seem to have posted Rosenberg’s comment, and I was not taking notes, but the rationality of his impromptu comments stayed with me, after the moment.
Rosenberg said, not bragging, that he had loved being a prosecutor, finding the misdeeds, righting the wrongs. In words to this effect, he said he loved presenting evidence, convincing judge and jury, seeking justice.
But, he added soberly, the part he enjoyed least was the sentencing. He did not enjoy being in a courtroom and hearing most of the suspects being sentenced to….something.
These are real people, Rosenberg said. They have families. They have private lives. They may deserve their sentences, but they are….people.
Rosenberg’s decency calmed me down, well, for a few minutes. But as the day went on, and front-page news came of that slimy gossip paper having flipped, with a safe full of salacious clips on Trump, and my ongoing awareness that Trump is tossing very dangerous toys around his playpen, I felt no empathy for Michael Cohen.
Let him sell his apartment to pay his fines and legal bills. I don’t buy the line by his lawyers and apologists that he is a changed man. He is a caught man. Sorry.
I give thanks to MSNBC for, during this terrible time, having brought in their own phalanx of qualified “contributors” – people who worked in government and the law, people who have expertise, and share it.
People I mostly never heard of until Trump strutted into the White House: Rosenberg, Joyce Vance, Barbara McQuade, Paul Butler, Mimi Rocah, Frank Figliuzzi, Maya Wiley, Daniel Goldman, my fellow Jamaica High School grad Jelani Cobb, and many others, plus two grand oldie-but-goodie Watergate lawyers, Nick Akerman and (drum roll, please) my second favorite septuagenarian lady, dressed and coiffed perfectly, a legal guru, smiling like a blonde Buddha from Chicago, Jill Wine-Banks.
I learn so much from these contributors. Now I am looking forward to a lot of people named Trump being frog-marched into the pokey for their grifting from here to Riyadh or Moscow and back again.
While we’re on the subject, I apologize for my lowball estimate that Trump would self-destruct within 18 months. I was relying on my having known about him from back in Queens, but I vastly overestimated the vestigial patriotism and integrity and common sense of Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham and that White Citizens Council that stands mutely behind Mitch McConnell.
I once spent a day with Sen. Howard Baker on his campaign around Tennessee in 1972. None of these ciphers is Howard Baker, the Republican hero of Watergate.
So that’s where we stand. Michael Cohen got three years and had to walk the felon walk. It’s going down.
12/13/2018 10:56:28 am
George—I love your comments and choice of words. It is time for the chickens to come home to roost.
12/13/2018 10:57:23 am
Yes, felons are people. After law school, I clerked for Hon. Jack B. Weinstein in the EDNY. He is still going strong on the bench at the age of 97, and more than 50 years as a federal judge. He believes, and has written about, the importance of the trial judge as the "human face of the law." He generally does not wear his robe, except for trials, and conducts most business -- motions, conferences, etc., around a table in the courtroom with counsel, not from up high on the bench. To Rosenberg's comments, he sentences that way, too, at the table, eye to eye with the defendant and counsel, and not in a robe. Even when he tells a defendant that the defendant committed a heinous crime, hurt people, etc., and must pay the price, it is a human interaction, all the more so for its immediacy and directness.
12/13/2018 11:08:21 am
I absolutely agree with all of your points, George. And yes, his family knew, of course they did. If I recall a factoid from what seems now the mists of time, Cohen's father-in-law is a sketchy character as well. Cohen's weaseling and rope-a-dopin' lack of cooperation with the Southern District prosecutors earned him his jail sentence. And no, this leopard'll never change his spots. He is what he always was, like his former boss, a goniff and a bully brought low. No tears shed hereabouts. May Trump meet the same fate.
12/13/2018 06:53:02 pm
12/14/2018 01:03:07 pm
12/14/2018 06:30:44 pm
Brian, thank you for your recommendations. If I were in the slightest thinking about gumming over the respective merits of "socialism" and "capitalism" or whatever these blokes are praising, I might have time and energy to look at them. However, I believe my post is about criminality -- the goniffs and thugs and sneaks that are attracted to Trump and vice versa. It seems to me that half a dozen developments in recent days point to Trump having planned and participated in illegal acts around the campaign. Cohen was his fixer. I read stuff from the WSJ, NYT, WaPo and some web sites. It's a crime story, Brian. We'll get back to socialism v capitalism when the courts sent more of them away. Again: crime, not politics. (I will deal with MSNBC after Bruce's comment, below. Thanks. GV)
12/15/2018 10:38:40 am
Oh my, George, I see that Trump Porn addiction is very hard to break. Like any addiction, it is seriously unhealthy, preventing any thought or action other than feeding the addiction. You should read more about what is going on in the big world outside. The issue I raise isn’t “socialism” nor is the issue your imagined silly “criminality.” The issue is “people” and what has become of most of them in advanced societies that have been captured by special interests. Like a body captured by unrelenting cancer, the vital organs become just collateral damage. The American worker, the French worker, the British worker, the Greek worker, the Italian worker, the Spanish worker, etc., are just “middle man” being eliminated by more efficient profit seeking globalists who have captured and retuned government to their interests. To repeat myself, perhaps this time for better comprehension: People like Hedges, Varoufakis and Trump have been talking about this real problem and have understood it and have acquired positions of importance by doing so. They each have different prescriptions. It’s worth considering all of them. So far, only Trump has gotten to do something about it. He’s very interesting and quite on target.
12/15/2018 02:19:01 pm
Brian: So....maybe Flynn and Manaforte and Cohen should tell the prosecutor and the judge that the deeds to which they are confessing are...uh.... "silly" and "imaginary." They're just taking one for the philosopher-king, Trump? The Cohen judge is a Trump-Giuliani guy. Brian, in the real world, people do not plead guilty for "imaginary."
12/14/2018 01:34:33 pm
12/14/2018 02:58:34 pm
12/14/2018 06:43:24 pm
Bruce: Good question. To pay or not to pay? I would say if you have CNN and CBC, you can get by. We also get i24, an Israeli channel with a focus on world news, and BBC America with the great Katty Kay. We also watch CNN, particularly for Jeffrey Toobin. (I have never seen Fox except when I walked into a room and was repelled backward.) Brian has good phrases: Trump Porn and and Trump Derangement Syndrome. There is often the sense of eating junk food, the salt and sugar highs of watching people generally agree with each other. But: (to be continued in next Comment.)
12/14/2018 06:55:51 pm
Bruce (continued) However, MSNBC has a lot of good reporting -- the NBC professionals, Steve Kornacki, a terrific reporter now majoring in political number-crunching, Joy Reid, who specializes in race, and Jacob Soboroff, who has been working the Trump Stalag along the Mexican border, documenting the intentional cruelties of these people. Some of the hosts are excellent -- the great Andrea Mitchell, Lawrence O'Donnell at 10 PM , Velshi and Ruhle, who know business. I cant watch Morning Joe (where is Kate McKinnon?), or Chris Matthews, who interrupts his guests mindlessly,. Rachel Maddow, I love her, but she needs her old producer back, to focus her. My main point in my article is that these legal experts I mentioned bring information and experience without yukking it up., I feel that I have monitored a semester or two of law school from these good people. If Brian wants to indict me for indulging in Trump Porn, I might have to plead a mea culpa. Then again, these are vile times.Who's more pornographic than our Grabber-in-Chief? GV
12/15/2018 06:09:26 pm
12/16/2018 07:12:43 am
George, you know better than to accuse our President of criminality in some blanket non-specific way when no one outside of the Trump Porn World has alleged anything of the sort. As to "associates" -- most of whom our President had little to do with -- it appears we are slowly but inexorably getting to the bottom of how our federal law enforcement was infiltrated by lackeys of the self-interested folks who put our last President into office. Judge Emmet Sullivan, for example, has some issues as to how General Flynn has been treated by the Special Prosecutor's office. Another Judge just forced the DoJ to admit that the department deleted thousands of sensitive emails by the now famous "lovers" in their employ on subjects that appear to involve abuse of office. The chorus getting louder are not those afflicted by Trump Derangement Syndrome, but those here and around the world who want their governments back. After that, the important question is how governments can assist meeting modern challenges of our peoples. I'll make a prediction here for the new year: Trump will find a way to put in place a healthcare system that provides good coverage for all our citizens. He will implement President Obama's dream, one that the former President's handlers never let him realize. Merry Christmas.
12/16/2018 10:29:52 am
12/16/2018 06:07:19 pm
George—I can relate to Rosenberg’s comments that he is uncomfortable sentencing the guilty as they are real people.
12/17/2018 07:48:13 am
1/5/2019 09:15:06 am
Hi, Kids: I have recently initiated a two-month limit for comments -- to discourage the jokers who put up links for brothels and escort services in India. All comments are monitored, but two months is the limit now.
1/5/2019 09:27:26 am
Ooops. Forgot. I made it a 30-day limit, and let's keep it that way. Plenty of time to add two cents, or better., GV
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.