As if Donald Trump didn’t already give queer people enough reason to loathe him, a new book claims he boasted about fumigating his Mar-A-Lago resort after a visit from a friend with AIDS, Newsweek reports.
The tome, entitled The Fixers by investigative journalists Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld, alleges the friend in question was none other than Roy Cohn, Trump’s infamous lawyer. Cohn developed a high-profile career in Washington during the Red Scare and helped destroy the careers of dozens of men and women for their alleged communist ties, or for being homosexuals. He also represented a number of organized crime figures in New York courts before getting disbarred in 1986.
Despite his ties to the far right, Cohn himself was gay and died of AIDS in 1986. As news of his illness became public, Cohn repeatedly claimed he was sick with liver cancer. With the disease progressing, Trump invited Cohn to dinner at Mar-A-Lago as a sort of fond farewell. These days, Trump remembers it with a feeling other than fondness.
“Dining with friends at Mar-a-Lago in late December, three weeks before he’d assume the presidency, Trump shared yet another memory,” Rothfeld & Palazzolo write. “This one perhaps was evoked by the resort and Cohn’s last visit there, a few months before he died of AIDS. Trump recalled to his guests that after Cohn had left, ‘I had to spend a fortune to fumigate all the dishes and silverware.'”
It bears mentioning at this point that by 1986 doctors had determined AIDS was caused by the HIV virus, which could not be spread through casual contact. Fumigating Mar-A-Lago was pointless.
The authors go on to assert that Trump’s conservative nuttery, bellicose style and propensity to lie all originate from his relationship with Cohn. “When he moved to the top of the Republican field, Trump’s relationship with the red-baiting McCarthy aide turned mob lawyer became fresh fodder for reporters trying to understand Trump and his rise in national politics,” the book says. “A narrative began to take shape: Trump had adapted Cohn’s gutter philosophy to his own purposes. Cohn had taught him how to get in the mud, bend the truth to his whims, and declare victory despite all evidence to the contrary.”
The White House has yet to comment on the allegations in the new book. Regardless, Rothfeld & Palazzolo are not the first to assert that the Trump Presidency is the result of his relationship with Cohn. Last year, director Matt Tyrnauer’s Where’s My Roy Cohn made a similar thesis last year.