usual. You may not remember, but we spoke a couple of times about Roy Cohn for the Trump book and for the story that we're doing. We have sketched in the story and we
thought that if you had a moment, we would just tell you about where the story goes and see if there's anything else you wanted to add.
Okay. Go ahead.
So I'm going to
rip through this, but essentially, we took your lead and used the time way back when, when we're all younger and where you met Roy Cohn at Le Club and asked - according to
one of your books - for advice about the Justice Department's allegations against you and your father and that
Which, by the way, it was a lawsuit against many
developers all over the city. You do know that, right?
Yeah. There were others. LeFrak and others were sued as well. In this case, Roy, according to your account, which
we thought was charming, you didn't like settling, and he said in effect, my view is to tell them to go to hell and fight the thing in court. And after that, we talked
about how Roy Cohn represented you in legal battles. He had a hand in setting up the prenuptial agreement in your marriage and advised you on various things. I guess you
guys went out as well.
Oh, no. Roy was a lawyer. I mean he represented me as a lawyer. Why would you say go out? He represented me as a lawyer and he was a very good
lawyer. For me, he was a good lawyer. For some people, they weren't as happy, but I was very happy with him. He also represented a very good friend of mine, George
Steinbrenner. It was George. He represented the New York Yankees and George Steinbrenner. He represented Conde Nast. Probably, his best friend was Si Newhouse. Si Newhouse
of Conde Nast was one of his best friends, but he represented many people, not just us.
We actually have you saying that in the story and also you pointed out that he
was a lawyer, that he wasn't a mentor or whatever. Here's what you told us before. In interviews with The Post, Trump maintained Cohn was his attorney, stressing that he
was only one of many of Cohn's clients in New York. Trump also downplayed the influence of Cohn on his aggressive tactics and rhetoric saying, quote, I don't think I got
that from Roy at all. I think I have a natural instinct for that. Now, you should know that part of the reason I wanted to share this was that Roger Stone described Roy
Cohn as being much more than a personal lawyer. That's his words. And that he was kind of a cultural guide to Manhattan for you, as he put it. And then also Wayne Barrett,
who's spent a lot of time with both you and Roy Cohn, here's what he wrote about you. I don't know if you've ever read his book, but
I never read it because his book
was total fiction, but I never read it. Believe me, Wayne Barrett was just nonsense. Anything he wrote was nonsense. But anyway, go ahead with Wayne Barrett.
described you as an adviser and as a mentor and just for what it's worth, Barrett says that he can I'll just read you this. He says Barrett now says Cohn's stamp on Trump
is obvious. Quote, I just look at him and see Roy - Barrett said in an interview - both of them are attack dogs.
Yeah. Well, I don't see myself as an attack dog. I see
myself as somebody that's made a lot of money and done a great job and put a lot of people to work, but I don't see myself as an attack dog unless I'm attacked.
But I don't see that.
So we go through go ahead, I'm sorry.
I get it, but Roy represented lots of people, but Roy was a tough guy. Anyway, so go ahead.
give the background of Roy Cohn, which as you know is fascinating to say the least. His work in the U.S. Attorneys' Office, his work in Washington on various cases
including as an aide to Joseph McCarthy, and his decision to come back to New York and he established himself when you were just a little guy in New York. He developed
this network, which is pretty incredible looking back on, the people he had in his parties.
He had a direct relationship with J. Edgar Hoover.
amazing people at parties. That's true. He had really an amazing group of both glamorous people, influential people. I have not seen anything like it since and frankly, he
really had amazing people, fellows at parties. In terms of interesting parties, they were the most interesting.
We give that background. We got some letters that he
wrote to J. Edgar Hoover and we looped back to when you guys met and his representation on that first case and the $100 million dollar lawsuit. We say this, that you
signed a consent decree, but that in effect you and your father declared victory because there was no legal finding that you had discriminated as far as I can
Unlike others where there was a finding. But many people were sued under that whole situation.
In Barrett's book, there's this passage where it talks about you
once gave him a statement and said this. Trump once said that Cohn represented him in two libel cases against journalists. Though Trump said the legal work cost $100,000,
he said it was worth the money because, quote, I've broken one writer, according to a statement he once gave to reporter, Wayne Barrett. Do you remember that
No. I don't remember the statement. You have to understand, anything Wayne Barrett wrote was fiction. It was all made up from his mind. I'd say there were three
to four guys like that that I've met over my lifetime, but there are some writers that anything they write is total fiction.
But did Roy represent you in two libel
Not that I remember.
He didn't represent you in any libel cases as far as you remember?
Let me see. Where's the statement? What's the statement? Which
The statement was that before Wayne Barrett's original stories came out in the Village Voice, you gave him a statement that said that Roy Cohn had represented
you in two libel cases and that you paid $100,000 for the legal work and that you, quote, I've broken one writer. It was before the stories came out, so presumably it was
kind of a little bit of a reminder that you were willing to sue.
No, I never said that.
Okay. You never said it or you don't recall it?
I certainly don't recall it
and I don't think I ever said it.
We're going to add that to the story, Mr. Trump.
But, frankly, I'll go a step further. I don't know of any lawsuits that I sued. A
couple of times, I sued writers because they were dealing with fiction, which of course many of them do, but I don't believe I ever said a thing like that to Wayne
Okay. Fair enough. So we go on to talk a little more about Roy Cohn and we do it because his influence does oh, go ahead. I'm sorry.
Well, I just wanted to
ask real quick. You do recall Roy representing you with regard to the prenuptial agreement with Ivana?
In any case, we talked about Roy Cohn's background as
almost sort of it's kind of like fiction except it's not. He was very open about his distaste for taxes in the city and with the IRS. He talked in his book - he wrote a
book called How to Stand Up for Your Rights and Win about
He won the case for me, you know, the Trump Tower tax case. You know that.
The Trump Tower,
the tax case.
Right. Well, in any case
Roy said he didn't [indiscernible] the tax abatement so, you know, the tax deal on Trump Tower and I ended up winning.
We talked a little bit about the Studio 54 days and his representation of those guys and the club itself. We talked a little bit - just FYI - about going to Studio 54, and
you going to Studio 54 and recalling it. There's a quote we took from TrumpNation about just those days and that you were just kind of looking back on it, you were amazed
What was TrumpNation? What was TrumpNation?
That's the quote about Studio 54 and saying that it could probably never happen again.
Yeah. I think that's correct.
TrumpNation. Who wrote TrumpNation?
TrumpNation was Timothy O'Brien.
He was almost as bad as Wayne Barrett. I mean frankly, but TrumpNation was a zero book. That was a
zero. That was total fiction. In all fairness, I would say between those two guys and probably a couple of others, but that was so, you took a quote out of the
Yeah. I'll read you the quote. The quote was, "What went on in Studio 54 will never happen again," Trump said years later, according to Timothy O'Brien's
TrumpNation. "First of all, you didn't have AIDS. You didn't have the problems that you do now. I saw things happening there to this day I'll never see again about
supermodels and all that." And you said that there was just wild stuff happening in the middle of the room and that just won't happen anymore.
You mean weren't the
problems that there are today?
You mean generally in the society?
I just don't know what he wrote. I sued him on that book. He wrote a totally false book,
but unfortunately, the libel law still allows that kind of a victory, but that's okay but we'll be back with it.
What do you mean we'll be back with it?
people do false stories, I bring lawsuits.
Oh, I see. Okay. We [audio glitch]. Let's see. Roger Stone meeting Roy Cohn for the time and with Roy Cohn was Tony Salerno. He
was amazed by that and then Cohn recommended this is in the book that Zion wrote with him that Cohn recommended that Stone reach out to you, and then Cohn began a
relationship with the Reagans. We say this
Roy was very close with Ronald Reagan actually. That's true.
Here is this. I'd say in 1981, Ronald Reagan wrote Cohn, a
registered Democrat, a warm note of thanks for his support. Cohn tapped into that network on Trump's behalf a short time later according to The New York Times account. At
Trump's request, Cohn lobbied Ed Meese III, a senior White House aide to secure an appointment for Trump's sister, Maryann Barry, an experienced jurist in New Jersey to
the United States Court of Appeals. Trump told The Times, quote, my sister got the appointment totally on her own merit. If The Times reported that Roy Cohn called on your
behalf, did you ask him to call Ed Meese and help your sister out?
Yeah. I don't want to comment on that.
Okay. That's the first no comment I've ever heard from you,
Okay. That's fine.
Why don't you want to comment on it?
I just don't want to comment on it.
I'm proud of my sister. She's done a great job. I just
don't comment on thas.
We talked about the birthdays a little bit, I won't bore you with that. We talked a little bit about Trump Tower. Some of the stuff you and I have
talked before about campaign contributions and you were advised by your lawyer at one point when you gave campaign contributions to do it through your subsidiaries. One
thing that I'm not sure about is something about John Cody. John Cody was described as a very tough guy and a guy that if he wanted to stop a project, he could. The House
of Representatives found he was, quote, universally acknowledged to be the most significant labor racketeer preying on the construction industry in New York. Cody claimed
Cohn as a friend. Cody also worked with Trump. He said he also worked with Trump with Cohn serving as the intermediary. Quote, I knew Trump quite well. Cody said, quote,
Donald liked to deal with me through Roy Cohn. What about the John Cody relationship?
I didn't know Cody well. I know that he was a bad guy. He caused a lot of problems
in New York with labor. A nasty guy. I didn't like him. I'm not a fan of his. And I don't know who I dealt with him. He was there with the Teamsters.
Two things that I
think are interesting. One is there was an allegation that in 1980 not an allegation, but apparently in 1980, you were asked to talk to the Organized Crime Strike Force.
Tell me about why, what did they ask you there to talk about Cody?
I don't remember that at all.
Oh, you don't remember giving the deposition?
I don't remember that,
no. But I would have said Cody was a bad guy if I did. John Cody was a bad guy.
Barrett reported that Cody claimed that he offered Trump peace with the union workers in
exchange for an apartment. And you told Barrett that you, quote, emphatically denied any such deal. We're reporting that from your perspective, it never happened, is that
I wouldn't have made a deal with John Cody for a lot of reasons. Number one, I wouldn't have made a deal and number two, he was a very bad guy.
Now again, I know
this isn't your favorite writer, but Tim O'Brien reported this, "Trump claimed that Cody stayed out of his way because Cody considered him tough." Quote, you know how I
dealt with him, I told him to go fuck himself all the time. O'Brien said that you told him.
Anything in O'Brien's book is fiction. Okay. You saw that. But anything in
his book is fiction. That's been proven to be fiction, by the way.
But, is it true ?
I don't know that I ever spoke to him about Cody. I can only tell you this, Cody was
a bad guy and I didn't deal with him almost at all because I knew the kind of guy he was. He was a very bad cookie.
And you never offered him? There was no deal for an
apartment, is what you're saying.
Of course not. It's all ridiculous.
Yeah, okay. Thanks. We're just trying to run this stuff by you. We write a little bit about Cohn
and the FBI preparing to bug his office because of the tie to Fat Tony Salerno.
I didn't know Tony Salerno. I think he was a client of Roy's, wasn't he?
know. I never met him, but I think he was a client of Roy's.
Now Zion talks about an episode that is really interesting, and I'll just read you the paragraph. Cohn had
his setbacks and once turned to Trump for help. Cohn had personally charted a 747 for a group of male friends to travel to Europe. The group trashed the plane and Cohn
never paid the charter bill. The airline sued Cohn unsuccessfully but could not get any money from him. An executive called Trump to see if he would pay. Quote, are you
kidding, Trump responded. According to Cohn's autobiography, quote, I felt for that poor bastard because Roy just wiped out that plane. Trump told Zion about the episode,
but what was I supposed to do? Hey, it was Roy, what was anybody supposed to do? Does that ring a bell?
Oh, yes. Yeah, I do. I remember that there was an episode with
an airplane with Roy and his friends. I guess they were pretty wild, but they trashed the plane. And I remember the airline calling me to see if there's any way I could
help because I was one of their clients and it had something to do with the airline and charter planes and things. They called me and they asked is there anything I can
do. Well, I thought I might have helped them something with Roy, but I don't know. It was a long time ago. But I do remember that there was a plane that was pretty well
damaged inside from Roy and one of his parties. I think he had a party on the plane or something, right?
Yeah. Apparently a non-stop party, no pun intended. You wrote
yourself, quote, I don't kid myself about Roy. He was no Boy Scout. Trump once wrote in one of his books, quote, he once told me that he'd spent more than twothirds of his
adult life under indictment for one charge or another. That amazed me. I said to him, "Roy, just tell me one thing. Did you really do all that stuff?" He looked at me and
smiled, "What the hell do you think?" he said. And then you wrote, "I never really knew."
When did I write that?
It's in a footnote and I don't have my computer open.
Do you remember which book that was?
Art of the Deal.
I think it was the Art of the Deal.
That's pretty much as I remember it, yeah.
We talked about Roy Cohn becoming
ill in '84, and we say this, "He maintained he had liver cancer but he was suffering from the effects of the HIV virus. As he struggled to stay alive, Trump pulled back
from his friend for a spell. Cohn was apparently thrown off balance by this betrayal." Quote, I can't believe he's doing this to me, Cohn said. According to Barrett's
account, "Donald pisses ice water." And then we talked a little bit about the disbarment proceedings and how prominent folks, including you, weighed in on Roy Cohn's
behalf but he was disbarred in any case. That before he was disbarred that spring, you had resumed your visits to Cohn, and that spring had invited him down to Mar-a-Lago
for a brief stay. And we say that on
Roy got sick, and he was pretty sick. I remember quite vividly that he lost much of his strength. As a lawyer, he was very, very
weakened, you know, physical condition. And it was very difficult. I remember George Steinbrenner calling me on the same thing, because he was so physically weakened that
he couldn't really represent you. He didn't have the physical strength at that point.
Do you recall the visit to Mar-a-Lago? In other words, it looks like you distanced
yourself from the accounts from him for a little while but resumed your friendship before it was too late.
Roy wanted to know if he could go to Mar-a- Lago. He got a
friend or something; a woman, a society woman who he wanted to see Mar-a-Lago. And I remember that sometime prior to his death, he toured Mar-a-Lago with the woman. This
is a Palm Beach society woman who was a friend of Roy also. I worked that out for him to do. I worked it out for him to do.
Cohn died on August 2, 1986, he was 59. His
friends, - I'm reading from our draft. "His friends had a memorial service for him. Trump stood in the back silently. Zion, the journalist, wrote that Cohn was
misunderstood by his critics." Quote, what curdled their blood with Cohn was his headline hunting, his gunslinger style, his contempt for the niceties, his contempt for
them. One year after his death, Trump professed admiration for Cohn. "Tough as he was, Roy had a lot of friends," Trump wrote in his book, Trump: The Art of the Deal. "And
I'm not embarrassed to state that I was one." And then based on a recent chat you had with us, we write, "Trump remains fond of Cohn today." Quote, I actually got a kick
out of him, Trump recalled in a recent interview with The Post. Quote, some people didn't like him and some people were offended by him. I mean they would literally leave
at dinner. I had one evening where three or four got up from the table and left the table because they couldn't stand the mention of his name. But with all of that being
said, he did a very good job for me as a lawyer. I get a kick out of winning and Roy would win.
Yeah, it's true, fellows. That's true. He was a winner. He knew how to
win if he wanted to, if he wanted to. He had things that he wanted to do, and when he wanted to win, he was tough.
Well, that's the overview of our story. Obviously,
the link here is that his representation of you, and the skills, the tactics, the rhetoric - he's like he was in your face if he wanted to win. It has an uncanny
similarity to some of your approach as you're trying to win the presidency. And so that's what makes it, I think, an interesting kind of feature story.
I was wondering
why we're going on but that's okay. Look, Roy, as a lawyer was superb. As a lawyer, if he liked his client and he liked a few of us, there weren't too many of them,
frankly. You understand that. But if he liked his client, and if he liked the case, he was an absolutely superior lawyer. He could be really great. I would say, yeah,
pretty much that last sentence that you read me before was correct.
Mr. Trump, so you have a good idea what's going to be in the story. Anything that you want to
No. Just that he was a tough, smart guy. He was very controversial at the time. You guys figured that one out pretty quickly, but he was very controversial. But I
think it's like Sidney said –- who was that Sid? You meant Sid Zion when you said Zion?
Yeah, because he did have a good heart in many respects. And he fought
very hard for his clients.
How do you feel now that you've got a lot of years under the belt and you could think about it? Let me read you a quote from somebody to give
you the tenor of the dissidence here. Bear with me. Quote, he was a great source of evil in this society, Victor Kovner, a Democratic activist in New York City and a First
Amendment lawyer, told The Post, "He was a vicious, red-baiting source of sweeping wrong-doing." How does it feel to call that kind of guy I mean, is that
Roy had two sides. Roy had people that would like him and respect him and felt very strongly about him. Like Si Newhouse and George, and George Steinbrenner
and myself, and others. And he had people that absolutely hated him. I'd never seen anybody that was to that extent that way. He would have people that thought he was
terrific and for whom he did terrific work, and he'd have other people that like Victor Kovner, who couldn't stand him. He'd have that. But Roy was very much that way.
There's no question about it. No, there were people that disliked him intensely, and there were other people that thought he was terrific.
Mr. Trump, we've seen photos
of Studio 54 and Roy, heard stories about his charisma. He obviously had a big network of friends and people who were very loyal to him. And part of that it seems was,
there's a social component to him. Obviously, as a lawyer he's very talented, but also there's a social component to his personality that people were attracted
Tell us a little bit about your social interactions. There's a picture of you with him in Studio 54, for example. Tell us a little bit about how you
interacted with him besides the parties.
It wasn't much of a social relationship. It was a business relationship. So much of what I do is business that the people I
meet are through business, so in a way that was through business. But he was close with Ian Schrager and with Steve Rubell and he was at Studio 54 a lot. I'd take friends
to go to Studio 54. I'd go there a lot with dates and with friends, and with lots of people. Roy would always make it very comfortable because I didn't know them at the
time as well. I got to know Steve and Ian very well later on, but I didn't know them at the time as well. One thing with Roy, you always met interesting people and his
parties were the most interesting. They were glamor. They were people of great significance in lots of different ways. You'd meet very glamorous people. You'd meet very
successful people. You met lots of different people at his events.
What was he like in that setting? He just worked the room? Obviously you'd
He was much more subdued
in a social setting. He'd be a much more subdued guy. He just liked to take it in and sit and watch. He was a much more subdued guy there than he would be in a legal or
I'm going to read something to you to make sure we've nailed it. First of all, Roger Stone said that Roy helped sort of you were still a young man
and that he kind of would say, I know these people, I know these people. He kind of guided you through the Manhattan thing, but here's the sentence I want to be sure that
we get right. "Trump maintained a reputation as a straight-laced teetotaler, but he loved to be in the mix late at night, especially among beautiful women."
never drank. Fortunately, I probably wouldn't be talking to you right now, but I was never a drinker [sounds like]. I never drank actually. I never had a glass of alcohol.
Yeah, that would be read that again? Let me just
Who's making that statement?
No, that's us, based on everything we've read. "Trump maintained a reputation as
a straight-laced teetotaler, but he loved to be in the mix late at night, especially among beautiful women."
Yeah, I would certainly be there. You're talking about
parties generally or kind of ?
Yeah, you liked hanging out, but you weren't a big drinker. I've never heard - no pun intended - a whiff of you using any drugs or anything
It's never been my deal. Never been my deal.
All right. Well, you sure have a very good sense of the story. It associates you with a guy who represented you
aggressively, who showed you around a little bit, who turned you on to people, who himself was considered by some people to be charming and by others something of an
antichrist who went after people and hurt people, and that sort of thing.
But he also helped people. We won the tax deal on Trump Tower. What they did to me was very
unfair, and he did a great job in that case, and others. He helped people also. Well, is this part of your fabulous upcoming book?
There is a section we mentioned this
to you in a previous conversation for the book, this is the piece that we're doing for the newspaper that we've done some more reporting and written it for the newspaper.
So it should run on the paper in a week or so.
All right. Good. Well, he was an interesting character. It was an interesting era.
While I have you, there's sort of a
distilled section, and I figure I'll just share it with you now. All right. So you meet Roy Cohn, and it's on October 1973. It's an important relationship in your career
that he represented you in legal battles, counseled you on the prenuptial agreement, introduced you to people in New York. "And Cohn also showed Trump how to exploit power
and instill fear through simple principles – attack, counterattack, and never apologize." Here's something we think is fair to use, but let us know what you think.
"Since he announced his run for the White House a year ago, Trump has used such tactics, meaning attack, counterattack, and not apologizing, more aggressively than any
candidate in memory."
Hey, do you think? I don't think so. Do you think so?
Oh, by far.
Really? Why should –- I'm opposed to saying that I can't believe
Well, if it's wrong, make your case. But it's pretty clear that I don't think there's ever been a candidate like Donald Trump.
Well, that's true.
The side effect
is that your opponents have felt demeaned, minorities have felt insulted and women, and of course your supporters you have the ability to get them whipped up through
anger and other measures. In other words, demeaning opponents, insulting minorities and women, and whipping up anger among your supporters.
I think they respect what
I'm saying. I think I have great supporters and I think they're extremely loyal. One thing that seems to have come out very strongly in polls and other things is that my
supporters are the most loyal that anybody's ever seen to this date. We have great supporters, great loyalty among my supporters. You've seen that I guess.
thing, and I'll tell you I'm a actually a little baffled, just maybe because I'm naive and I haven't seen it before, but the tactics of the aggression where you are
demeaning opponents and insulting people, the Mexican- American judge, from all I can tell, and certain women, feel very insulted by some of your remarks. Is that an
overall strategy? What's that about?
I don't feel I insult people. I don't feel I insult people. I try and get to the facts and I don't feel I insult people. I hear
what you're saying but I do not feel that I insult people. Now, if I'm insulted I will counterattack, or if something is unfair, I will counterattack, but I don't feel
like I insult people. I don't want to do that. But if I'm attacked, I will counterattack.
Clearly. Listen, thank you, you should have a very good sense of the story.
And if anybody has any questions have Rhona call or whatever.
Just treat it fairly fellows, that's fine. Just be fair and that's it. A great honor to talk to you
Thank you. Bye-bye.
Take care of yourselves. So long. Bye.
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