Loading...
BME(Bless my ears). I am 69 and admit to hearing loss but why can prime time tv shows not have the same sound quality...

Same swamp, different reptiles

Karen Tumulty

Karen Tumulty

Loading…

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Until the FBI raided his office, home and hotel room in April, President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen was known mostly for his star turns on cable television as his client's most cringe-worthy defender, along with his spectacularly unsuccessful effort to silence a porn actress who claims to have had an affair with Trump.

How could we have underestimated him so? Cohen, it turns out, is the Swiss Army knife of political fixers, an all-purpose tool to have at hand for just about any situation.

Consider the array of businesses that have turned to him for skills and expertise, some of which he had previously shown no signs of possessing.

The Swiss drug giant Novartis, for instance, offered Cohen, a former personal-injury lawyer with a taxi business on the side, $1.2 million for his advice on health-care policy. When, alas, it turned out Cohen would be "unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated," the company paid him anyway, a spokeswoman said.

Korea Aerospace Industries says it sought his guidance with reorganizing its internal accounting system. The company insisted, implausibly, that it had no idea Cohen's firm had a connection to Trump when it paid him $150,000. At the time, it also happened to be bidding on a U.S. contract with Lockheed Martin for training jets while juggling an embezzlement scandal.

In the estimation of AT&T, Cohen's "insights into understanding the new administration" — which included advice on how to win approval of its $85 billion merger with Time Warner, a deal that Trump criticized on the campaign trail — were worth $600,000, according to reporting Thursday by The Post. Whatever guidance he gave must not have worked: The Justice Department has filed suit to block the deal.

And then there is the eyebrow-raising $500,000 Cohen collected to advise Columbus Nova — an investment firm that also manages money for Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg — on real estate investments.

It remains to be seen whether any of this is illegal or merely unseemly.

That will depend on what, precisely, these companies got for their money. Also potentially of interest to investigators is whether Cohen made any misstatements in the bank records of Essential Consultants, the richly apt name he gave the company that handled both his hush-money payment Stormy Daniels and his new business of offering his talents to eager, high-paying clients.

What it does show is that the game in Washington never really changes. The only things that shift from election to election are the most sought-after players.

That is because relationships are the lubricant of influence. When Trump won, the traditional rosters of lobbyists — ex-congressmen, lawyers from white-shoe firms, former congressional staffers — were of little use in gaining access to a band of outsiders who came to town vowing to demolish the old order.

Cohen was not the only Trump insider to see a chance to cash in, after his hopes for a job with the new administration were dashed. The president's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, along with former Trump aide Barry Bennett, also opened a consulting firm, which quickly had more business than it could handle. "It was like shooting fish in the barrel," Bennett told The Post.

Nor is Team Trump unique in seizing these opportunities. President Barack Obama had not been in office a month before his 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, was paid $50,000 to give a speech in Azerbaijan to a group with close ties to that repressive government.

Plouffe insisted he was there "as a private citizen.” Amid criticism that his presence was part of a campaign to burnish the government's image, Plouffe announced he would give his speaking fee to pro-democracy groups.

Pay-to-play is an old tradition that goes at least as far back as the Teapot Dome scandal, and probably further. What, if anything, Cohen's business dealings will tell us about the current Russia investigation remains anyone's guess.

But they have illuminated the fact that Washington continues to have a most durable ecosystem: The swamp is never drained; it just gets taken over by different reptiles.

Karen Tumulty is a Washington Post columnist covering national politics. She joined The Post in 2010 from Time magazine and has also worked at the Los Angeles Times.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

February 23, 2019

The world of manufacturing is in the midst of a new industrial revolution. Today’s factory floor has evolved far beyond yesteryear’s steam-powered workshop, just as today’s Tesla Model S — internet-connected, nearly autonomous — has evolved far beyond the horse-drawn…

Harry J. Ploehn

February 23, 2019

Do you watch the TV game show Family Feud? It is good fun as one family competes with another for cash prizes, but we all know that real life family feuds can be bitter, divisive and cause great damage.

For many years the United Methodist Church, along with many other denominations has been having…

021117campbell

February 22, 2019

If the goal is to build a border wall, then President Trump has made the wrong decision at every turn. In early 2018, Trump had the opportunity to secure $25 billion in funding for his border wall in exchange for legal status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. Instead of taking…

Marc_Thiessen

February 22, 2019

The people of rural North Carolina (east and west) face unique challenges. Those of us located east of Interstate 95 share many of the same hardships and we have been in the same boat for years.

I have recently spent many hours in Pitt County with fellow lawmakers, and our brothers…

JimPerry

February 21, 2019

Several local school districts have asked the General Assembly to free them from the rigid start-date and end-date of the academic year now embedded in law. They define the issue as "calendar flexibility."

What seems a prosaic procedural matter actually poses a test of policymakers' flexibility and…

Ferrel Guillory

February 20, 2019

It's hard to be a native New Yorker and be stunned by much of anything that you see on the city's streets. But the other day I was in for quite a surprise.

As it happens, I had just mentioned a certain maternity-clothes store in Tribeca that happens to be across the street from Planned Parenthood.…

kathrynlopez

February 20, 2019

Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults —slavery and tariffs. He said: "Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more…

Walter Williams

February 19, 2019

El Chapo’s murderous Sinaloa drug cartel was based in Mexico, but for years its American nerve center was Chicago. His henchmen from the Little Village neighborhood, twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, turned the city into a conduit for as much as 1,500 kilos of cocaine and heroin each…

February 19, 2019

There's one in every family: The embarrassing relative who spouts off conspiracy theories or racist opinions at Thanksgiving.

If that relative was in your circle of friends, you'd make sure they didn't get invited ever again. But because they're family, you're stuck putting up with the crazy.

North…

Colin Campbell

February 18, 2019

I was born in Charlotte. But I grew up in rural Mecklenburg County. There used to be such a place — and, indeed, quite a few such places still exist in our increasingly urbanized state.

My family lived on 40 acres, mostly forest with a freight-rail track running through it. When the train…

john hood.jpg
311 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 32
        Next Page»   Last Page»