Two-time Tony award winner Nathan Lane stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his starring role in the Broadway revival of “Angels in America.” Shortly after cracking wise with the host (jokes about Steve Bannon as an Uber driver and Elton John as his emotional support peacock), Lane discussed his role in the landmark play as vile, closeted gay lawyer/fixer and Donald Trump mentor, Roy Cohn.
He believes Trump learned how to up his lying game from Cohn, who also once helped Sen. Joseph McCarthy target alleged communists and homosexuals working for the U.S. government in the 1950s.
After McCarthy fell from favor, Cohn entered private practice in New York City, representing Trump, Mafia kingpins like John Gotti, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of NY, Fox Studios head Rupert Murdoch, and Studio 54 partners Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell. Cohn was often a regular at the disco, seen hanging with luminaries, while ogling the half-naked male staff.
“Really, what you learn [from watching the show] is what [Trump] learned from Roy Cohn: There are certain tactics that are very familiar, that Trump picked up from him,” Lane said. “You know, always go on the attack. The counterattack. Hit the accuser ten times harder and deflect. Never admit defeat. And outright lying if all else fails.”
“So it’s a much cruder version of what Roy Cohn used to do,” Lane said. “[Cohn] was a brilliant guy, if only he had used it for good rather than evil. He certainly taught Trump very, very well and they were very close.”
Lane’s remarks were in response to a New York Times reported comment from Trump who shouted, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” expressing frustration with his White House counsel’s approach to the Russia probe.
Cohn died of AIDS in 1986. The Names Project AIDS memorial quilt contains one anonymously-added panel that reads: “Roy Cohn: Bully, Coward, Victim.”