“The worst human being I ever described was Roy Cohn”

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is on trial for sex crimes this week in Los Angeles. The 70-year-old is already serving a 23-year prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of rape in New York, and would have at least 100 wives accused him of rape or sexual assault.

In a recent episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” New Yorker writer Ken Auletta compared Weinstein to another “evil” but talented person he described – the late Roy Cohn, a key figure in the Red Scare and a former mentor of Donald Atout.

“The worst human being I ever described was Roy Cohn,” said Auletta, who recently wrote, “Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence.” was bad in some ways, and yet he was brilliant.

Cohn, a notoriously unethical lawyer, had ties to both Donald Trump and his father, Fred. When the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in 1973 accusing the Trumps and their real estate company of refusing to rent to black people, they hired Cohn to defend them. Cohn, who rose to fame as senior adviser to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the 1954 anti-Communist hearings, eventually helped the Trumps reach a settlement in which they admitted no wrongdoing.

NEW YORK, NY – 1983: Roy Cohn (L) and Donald Trump attend the Trump Tower Opening in October 1983 at Trump Tower in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

Cohn’s other clients included the Big Five crime families and the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Cohn has also himself been accused of a number of crimes during his career, including bribery, extortion and blackmail. In 1986, a Manhattan court disbarred Cohn after he attempted to swindle a dying client out of his fortune. He died of AIDS-related complications just over a month later.

“Potential clients who want to kill their husbands, torture a business partner, break the government’s legs, hire Roy Cohn,” Auletta wrote in her 1978 profile, “Don’t mess with Roy Cohn.” “He’s a legal executioner – the toughest, meanest, most loyal, vile and one of the most brilliant lawyers in America.”

Auletta describes Weinstein in similar terms. The Miramax co-founder produced a number of modern classics such as ‘Good Will Hunting’, ‘The English Patient’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’.

“He had a real talent, Harvey could read a script. He was much, much more familiar with the movies than the so-called Hollywood studio suits,” Auletta explained. “He really knew movies, read scripts and read books and was a brilliant marketer.”

Still, he said, “The wickedness of what Harvey did to women. It is incomparable.

Dylan Croll is a journalist and researcher at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @CrollonPatrol.

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