With all of the drama and intrigue of the last three years watching Donald Trump get into and out of what would be glue traps for the average person, two things are apparent: It’s clear he’s had some decent lawyers, and it’s easy to forget how long he’s been around and needed lawyers for his shady behavior.
But there’s always been one lawyer that Trump held in the absolute highest regard, and not for no reason — Roy Cohn, considered by most to be the kind of skeevy lawyer who gives the profession a black eye, defended Trump and his father successfully against claims of housing discrimination more than four decades ago, and Trump has never forgotten that victory. Of course, much of that case was ultimately decided by the prevailing racism in both New York and the justice system at the time, but the fact is, Trump never forgets a favor, even a racist one.
But every villain has a hero counterpart in America eventually, and Cohn’s foil came in 1977 when he tried to get the convictions of mob boss Joseph Gambino — the cousin of capo di tutti capo Carlo Bambino — and his “associate” Carlo Conti overturned in the 2nd District Court of Appeals. That effort failed largely due to the efforts of a new prosecutor at the time to the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss.
Strauss went on to specialize in mafia cases, but in just 6 short years, she was promoted to chief of appeals in the Criminal Division and chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Unit.
It’s been 42 years, but now Strauss is back at the department where she took down Donald Trump’s mentor and favorite lawyer, Roy Cohn. And this time, she’s the second in command at the SDNY under George Berman, an attorney who has recused himself from a tightly Trump-connected case — the prosecution of Michael Cohen. Berman didn’t give a specific reason for his recusal and doesn’t have to, but what it creates is a power exchange not unlike what happened between Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein after Sessions recused himself from anything Russia-related.
And should prosecutors decide to draw a line between former Russian mafia go-between Felix Sater and Donald Trump that goes through Michael Cohen, Strauss could be back in control of a mob case that would take down the President’s lawyers again.
That’s not just movie-style justice. This is the stuff of legends.
Featured image is from the Department of Defense.