Trump can survive impeachment. However like my cousin Roy Cohn, he has misplaced New York’s respect.
Donald Trump has spent the last four years in the center of the world. Hidden in Florida, he is facing a historic second impeachment trial before the Senate. He is unlikely to get convicted and will remain loved by his rabid fan base. But he’s certainly forever lost the chance of getting what he really longed for: respect in the boardrooms, club rooms, and newsrooms of Manhattan.
A cover of the New York Daily News said, “DON’T COME BACK!”
In the past few months, Trump has suffered humiliating defeats from voters, judges, social media gatekeepers and even PGA tournament organizers. But the rejection of the hometown certainly stings. He loved showing off his gold-plated triplex penthouse on top of Trump Tower. he drew energy from the paparazzi who chased him on Fifth Avenue; He was proud to see his name on hotels and residential buildings in elite neighborhoods.
I know this because I had a front row seat to watch Trump go through his dizzying rise in the 1970s and 1980s. As a student and then as a young journalist, I spent time with Roy Marcus Cohn, the fixer who mentored Trump. Roy was my father’s cousin, so I saw Cohn-Trump bullying and cutting in the corner.
As I watched Trump and Cohn at parties in Manhattan and the Hamptons, I realized that their intense friendship was born out of their shared resentment against New Yorkers, who seemed more successful, established, and accepted.
Trump and Cohn grew up on the outskirts of the city, their faces pressed against the window of society, hoping to join in.
Trump and Cohn grew up on the outskirts of the city, their faces pressed against the window of society, hoping to get involved. Trump later made fables about his real estate prowess, like his $ 1.2 billion Taj Mahal Casino, “the eighth wonder of the world” (until it went bankrupt). But deep down, he knew he was just a heir to a Queens family who owned distinctive apartment complexes. Cohn was born in the Bronx and raised by a mother who yearned for recognition in Manhattan.
I understand. I spent my early childhood in East Harlem with friends and relatives living in dazzling neighborhoods that were alluringly close. New Yorkers know that the span of a few blocks means a world of status differences.
Cohn wasn’t a great lawyer, but he was a relentless connector and a charlatan. He introduced Trump to the tax evaded Studio 54 owners, the corrupt politicians who eased zoning restrictions, the Mafia bosses who allegedly ensured a steady supply of concrete to Trump Tower during a strike.
Cohn and Trump made sure the Old Guard saw them spinning around town in their chauffeured Rolls-Royces. But no matter how often Trump appeared on the tabloid columns or put his name on buildings, he could not ingratiate himself with the New York establishment.
“Donald operated in New York on the assumption that wealth, even if he pretended to buy everything he longed for,” Ruth Messinger told me in a recent interview. She was District President of Manhattan in the 1990s and clashed with Trump over his attempts to wall up huge apartment blocks in Manhattan.
“Real estate leaders made fun of Donald behind his back,” continued Messinger. “Some city officials turned him down just because they considered him too lenient, too manipulative, too untrustworthy.”
No matter how often Trump appeared in tabloid columns or put his name on buildings, he couldn’t ingratiate himself with New York’s decor.
When Trump began his presidency, he considered spending some of the time in his Trump Tower apartment on the 58th floor, which was plated in 24-karat gold. He was obsessed with reporting from the hometown media: the New York Times, the New York Post, and New York-based television networks. But New York finally rejected him emphatically. In the November election, he lost every constituency in Manhattan to Joe Biden.
Trump ridiculed the city as a “ghost town”. He moved to Florida. But he couldn’t fool the New Yorkers: he fled to Mar-a-Lago because he’s a pariah everywhere in the city, and he wanted confirmation.
Trump-branded properties in New York have lost more than 20 percent of their value, Business Insider reported. New York prosecutors are building cases to demonstrate the Trump Organization’s “extensive and protracted criminal behavior,” the Associated Press reported.
In a final blow, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled Trump contracts worth several million dollars. The city will remove the Trump name from an urban golf course and ice rink.
“We’ll be back in some form,” Trump promised as he left Washington – fled as it felt like – for a state he once seemed to despise. The cover of the Daily News gave him a Bronx cheer: “Trump joins other geezers in Florida.”
Trump shows no evidence that he has learned from his most important education. In 1986 Roy Cohn died of AIDS complications in his 33-room townhouse on Park Avenue. One by one powerful New Yorkers left him – including Donald Trump.
Today New York remembers my cousin not as a master of the universe, but as a broken, lonely figure who has been excluded and discredited. That should be a warning to his favorite apprentice.