The Corner

Politics & Policy

The President’s Fixer

Oh one more point re Cohen. When I hear people talk about Michael Cohen as “the president’s lawyer” in reverential tones, I tend to chuckle. Yes, of course, it’s true: He is the president’s lawyer. But the president has many lawyers. What distinguishes Cohen from the pack is that he’s also a goon and an enforcer. He describes himself as a “Fixer.”

“It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit. If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”

Yesterday, on Neal Cavuto’s show, I compared Cohen to Tom Hagen, Robert Duval’s character in The Godfather. I didn’t know, or maybe I forgot, that Cohen actually embraces that comparison.

Cohen, 44, is known around the office — and around New York — as Trump’s “pit bull.” Some have even nicknamed him “Tom,” a reference to Tom Hagen, the consigliore to Vito Corleone in the “Godfather” movies.

Hagen is a really great movie character. But just to be very clear: He’s also a criminal.

Cohen is not a legal scholar. He is not on the payroll to explain separation of powers or unitary executive theory or to even litigate in court. He’s one of these guys you meet every now and then, mostly in New York, who thinks The Soprano’s aesthetic is glamorous and cool, The Godfather is a kind of Sun Tzu or I Ching, and that people like Roy Cohn were heroes to emulate.

In short: He’s a bagman. He goes around and pays off porn stars and — I presume — greases all sorts of other palms in the ethically challenged world of New York real estate.

But yes, he’s also a lawyer, and that triggers all sorts of special rules and procedures that must be followed to protect procedural due process. But when you hear all of this “OMG! They searched Trump’s lawyer’s office!” talk, replace “lawyer” with “bagman.” It helps to put this in perspective.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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