Nick Confessore and Rachel Shorey must have mortified notorious braggart and cheapskate Donald J. Trump Monday night with their piece about his broken, broke and tattered presidential campaign-- "the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and his party in political peril." I wonder if Paul Ryan has picked out the outfits he plans to wear at the convention in Cleveland.
Trump began June with just $1.3 million in cash on hand, a figure more typical for a campaign for the House of Representatives than the White House. He trailed Hillary Clinton, who raised more than $28 million in May, by more than $41 million, according to reports filed late Monday night with the Federal Election Commission.And they should be cautious. Trump is a crook, has already funneled GOP money into the pockets of his own companies and to his children and, as Jonathan Mahler pointed out in the NYTimes Monday, Trump learned an awful lot from one of the most notorious political scoundrels of the 20h Century, his deceitful mentor Roy Cohn. When Cohn was Trump's lawyer his "reputation was well established. He had been Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red-baiting consigliere. He had helped send the Rosenbergs to the electric chair for spying and elect Richard M. Nixon president. Then New York’s most feared lawyer, Mr. Cohn had a client list that ran the gamut from the disreputable to the quasi-reputable: Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, Claus von Bulow, George Steinbrenner." He and Trump were a match made in hell.
He has a staff of around 70 people-- compared with nearly 700 for Mrs. Clinton-- suggesting only the barest effort toward preparing to contest swing states this fall. And he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday, after concerns among allies and donors about his ability to run a competitive race.
The Trump campaign has not aired a television advertisement since he effectively secured the nomination in May and has not booked any advertising for the summer or fall. Mrs. Clinton and her allies spent nearly $26 million on advertising in June alone, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, pummeling Mr. Trump over his temperament, his statements and his mocking of a disabled reporter. The only sustained reply, aside from Mr. Trump’s gibes at rallies and on Twitter, has come from a pair of groups that spent less than $2 million combined.
Mr. Trump’s fund-raising for May reflects his lag in assembling the core of a national finance team. In the same month that he clinched the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump raised just $3.1 million and was forced to lend himself $2 million to meet costs. Some invitations to Trump fund-raising events have featured the same short list of national Republican finance volunteers regardless of what city the event is held in, suggesting Mr. Trump has had some trouble lining up local co-hosts.
...[T]he shortfall is leaving Mr. Trump extraordinarily dependent on the Republican National Committee, which has seen record fund-raising this campaign cycle and, long before Mr. Trump even declared his upstart candidacy, had begun investing heavily in a long-range plan to bolster the party’s technical and organizational capacity.
In a first for a major party nominee, Mr. Trump has suggested he will leave the crucial task of field organizing in swing states to the Republican National Committee, which typically relies on the party’s nominee to help fund, direct and staff national Republican political efforts. His decision threatens to leave the party with significant shortfalls of money and manpower: On Monday, the party reported raising $13 million during May, about a third of the money it raised in May 2012, when Mitt Romney led the ticket.
...Allies of Mr. Trump say they believe the tide is already turning. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump will appear at a high-dollar fund-raiser in New York City hosted by some of the most prominent names on Wall Street.
Fund-raisers for Mr. Trump, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions, said they were now hoping to raise up to $500 million in joint efforts with the Republican National Committee, or an average of $100 million a month from June through October. He is now reliably raising between $5 million and $7 million in each city where he raises money, those donors said.
A joint fund-raising effort with Mr. Trump and 11 state Republican parties yielded the Republican National Committee $3 million in just five days at the end of May. Some of the largest checks came from a handful of wealthy Trump supporters who are not party mainstays, suggesting Mr. Trump could tap new sources of campaign money.
But Mr. Romney was also backed by expansive network of deep-pocketed “super PACs” and other outside groups that collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to elect him. This year, the Democrats are leading in outside money. Priorities USA Action, a group focused on advertising in support of Mrs. Clinton, announced on Monday that it had raised $12 million in May and had $52 million on hand-- a huge reserve.
The outside spending effort to help Mr. Trump, by contrast, has been chaotic and underfunded, hampered by a profusion of competing groups, one of which has spent only $1 million so far on Mr. Trump’s behalf.
The most prominent group, Great America, is advised by Ed Rollins, who managed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign, and other more seasoned Republican operatives. But it, too, has had difficulty persuading big donors: On Monday, it reported raising just $1.4 million during the month of May.
Fund-raising efforts for Mr. Trump have been hampered by the candidate’s own erratic public comments. He has repeatedly said he will pay for his own campaign even as his volunteers fan out around the country to solicit six-figure checks, confusing allies and potential donors alike.
“Two days ago, he said, ‘I may fund it myself,’” Mr. Rollins said. “Donors are all being cautious about what’s going to happen here.”
For Mr. Cohn, who died of AIDS in 1986, weeks after being disbarred for flagrant ethical violations, Mr. Trump was something of a final project. If Fred Trump got his son’s career started, bringing him into the family business of middle-class rentals in Brooklyn and Queens, Mr. Cohn ushered him across the river and into Manhattan, introducing him to the social and political elite while ferociously defending him against a growing list of enemies.For America... not so much, primarily because the country would suffer grievous economic losses if Trump and the GOP ever got to implement the crap they're running on-- at least according to a report Monday from Moody's. "[T]he nation did not fare particularly well in any scenario of full-on Trumpism, Trump Lite or a more-compromising version of the candidate." After studying Trump's tax and economic proposals, Moody's concluded that "after-inflation income, stock prices and home values would likely decline" and that there "would be the loss of 3.4 million jobs rather than the 6 million increase in employment currently expected." They assert that Trump's proposals would leave the economy in a "lengthy recession and is smaller at the end of his four-year term than when he took office." Its report also criticizes his "tax reform that will make America great again," saying that most of the proposed cuts would go to the wealthy and lower- and middle-class homes would be hit hard by job losses."
Decades later, Mr. Cohn’s influence on Mr. Trump is unmistakable. Mr. Trump’s wrecking ball of a presidential bid-- the gleeful smearing of his opponents, the embracing of bluster as brand-- has been a Roy Cohn number on a grand scale. Mr. Trump’s response to the Orlando massacre, with his ominous warnings of a terrorist attack that could wipe out the country and his conspiratorial suggestions of a Muslim fifth column in the United States, seemed to have been ripped straight out of the Cohn playbook.
“I hear Roy in the things he says quite clearly,” said Peter Fraser, who as Mr. Cohn’s lover for the last two years of his life spent a great deal of time with Mr. Trump. “That bravado, and if you say it aggressively and loudly enough, it’s the truth-- that’s the way Roy used to operate to a degree, and Donald was certainly his apprentice.”
For 13 years, the lawyer who had infamously whispered in McCarthy’s ear whispered in Mr. Trump’s. In the process, Mr. Cohn helped deliver some of Mr. Trump’s signature construction deals, sued the National Football League for conspiring against his client and countersued the federal government-- for $100 million-- for damaging the Trump name. One of Mr. Trump’s executives recalled that he kept an 8-by-10-inch photograph of Mr. Cohn in his office desk, pulling it out to intimidate recalcitrant contractors.
The two men spoke as often as five times a day, toasted each other at birthday parties and spent evenings together at Studio 54.
And Mr. Cohn turned repeatedly to Mr. Trump-- one of a small clutch of people who knew he was gay-- in his hours of need. When a former companion was dying of AIDS, he asked Mr. Trump to find him a place to stay. When he faced disbarment, he summoned Mr. Trump to testify to his character.
Mr. Trump says the two became so close that Mr. Cohn, who had no immediate family, sometimes refused to bill him, insisting he could not charge a friend.
...The two had met not long before at a private disco called Le Club, and instantly hit it off while discussing a nettlesome obstacle for Mr. Trump. The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was suing him and his father, accusing them of refusing to rent to black tenants. Mr. Trump told Mr. Cohn that their lawyers were urging them to settle.
“Tell them to go to hell and fight the thing in court,’” Mr. Trump later recalled Mr. Cohn advising him.
Mr. Trump did just that, with Mr. Cohn as his lawyer. Not only did Mr. Cohn countersue the government for $100 million, he filed a blistering affidavit on Mr. Trump’s behalf, mocking the case. “The Civil Rights Division did not file a lawsuit,” Mr. Cohn wrote. “It slapped together a piece of paper for use as a press release.” The Trumps ultimately settled the case by agreeing to make apartments available to minority renters, while admitting no wrongdoing.
...Among the many things Mr. Trump learned from Mr. Cohn during these years was the importance of keeping one’s name in the newspapers. Long before Mr. Trump posed as his own spokesman, passing self-serving tidbits to gossip columnists, Mr. Cohn was known to call in stories about himself to reporters.
...He used his connections to help Mr. Trump secure zoning variances and tax abatements critical to the construction of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Trump Plaza.
After one Cohn coup, Mr. Trump rewarded him with a pair of diamond-encrusted cuff links and buttons in a Bulgari box.
And if Mr. Cohn did not always feel comfortable charging a friend for his services, Mr. Trump was hardly one to put up a fight.
“Roy said, ‘I’ll leave it to Donald to give me what he thinks is fair,’” Mr. Fraser recalled of one lengthy Trump tax case in particular. “But, of course, Donald didn’t give him anything.”
Some work would have been difficult to bill. For instance, Mr. Cohn lobbied his friends in the Reagan White House to nominate Mr. Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry to the federal bench. (Questioned last year about this, Mr. Trump said his sister “got the appointment totally on her own merit.”)
...In June 1986, Mr. Cohn was disbarred for “unethical,” “unprofessional” and “particularly reprehensible” conduct.
...Fraser inherited all of Mr. Cohn’s possessions: the townhouse, his weekend place in Greenwich, Conn., his Rolls-Royce, his private plane and much more. But the Internal Revenue Service, collecting on Mr. Cohn’s tax debts, confiscated nearly everything.
He did get to keep the cuff links Mr. Trump had given Mr. Cohn. Years later, Mr. Fraser had them appraised; they were knockoffs, he said.
Mr. Fraser soon returned to his native New Zealand, where he now works as a conservationist at the Auckland Zoo. He has not spoken with Mr. Trump since Mr. Cohn’s death, but he has no doubt that if his former lover were still alive, he would be an enthusiastic supporter of the Trump campaign.
“Having trained or mentored someone who became president,” he said, “that would have been quite exciting for Roy.”