Es Tu Cohen? – Trump Wounded but is it Fatal?
This week was a busy one for the Fat Controller of the United States, Donald Trump. He was off to Hanoi in Vietnam for the long-awaited ‘Part 2’ of his initial summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. The summit was meant to last several days and was to focus around the continued denuclearisation of North Korea and America’s assistance in it opening its economy to the West. Trump spent the days leading up to the meeting lavishing compliments on Kim, describing him as "sharp as you can be" and "a real leader”, going on to add, "He's a character. He's a real personality. He's very smart." This barrage of sycophantic language was beginning to make this important summit sound like a romantic city-break for two and so it came as no surprise when it was announced that the two star-crossed leaders would meet before the official start of the summit for dinner in a downtown hotel.
Illustration by Rhiannon Powell
However, there was trouble in paradise for our happy couple: no sooner had they finished their desserts, the rest of the summit meetings were called off and both leaders were heading for home. So, what happened? By all accounts, it came down to a fundamental disagreement that prevented any further discussion. Kim made clear that North Korea had made good progress with dismantling its nuclear program but insisted that any further progress would be dependent on the US removing all its economic sanctions on his country – sanctions that are supposedly crippling its economy, although Kim seems to need no help in doing that himself. Trump refused to give ground of the sanctions until more progress was made with the denuclearisation process and so they reached an impasse. Although both nations are keen for a dialogue to continue and for more attempts to be made in future – so it looks like our love-birds are just on ‘a break’ so to speak.
Meanwhile, while he’d been distracted by his darling Kim, Trump was stabbed in the back by a one-time employee. His ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, gave his last set of evidence to Congress before being shipped off to prison for three years on charges of lying to the court – and what evidence it was! Cohen came out all guns blazing and presented the cheques, personally signed by Trump when a candidate, that he received as reimbursement for paying off the adult film star Stormy Daniels after she threatened to go public about Trump’s affair with her. This payment would breach the rules of campaign finance in the US and Cohen has stated that the President was aware of this law-breaking throughout the process. But more bombshells were to follow, including the accusation that Trump was in the know about the Wikileaks hack that exposed Hilary Clinton’s private emails and may well have cost her the White House. He also suggested that the previously unpublished investigation into illegal dealings of Trump’s company by the State of New York would pose more of a danger to The President than the Washington investigation into collusion with Russia.
Mr Cohen opened his statement by telling the committee “I’m ashamed. I am ashamed because I know what Mr Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat." A damning indictment. Although Cohen’s testimony has been put under some doubt due to its context: he is already convicted on a charge of lying and now he’s going prison – he may have decided he has nothing to lose and be trying to take down a President with him. However, if this was his intention, surely, he would have invented far more fatal accusations – as what he’s said, although extremely damaging, is not the straw to break the camel’s back and Trump has seemingly brushed it off quite lightly.
I would like to close on a quick note about the musician, composer, and conductor Sir André Previn who died on Thursday last week. The versatile Previn jumped between the worlds of jazz, classical, and film music – winning four Academy Awards for the latter. He conducted the LSO for over a decade and introduced many in this country to the wonders of the classical repertoire through his work with the BBC. He will live on through his compositions and his recordings as well as the glorious Morecombe and Wise sketch in which he guest starred and produced what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest pieces of comic acting ever shown on television.
May you always play all the right notes in the right order, Sir André.