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'''Roy Marcus Cohn''' (February 20, 1927 – August 2,
1986) was an American attorney. During Senator Joseph McCarthy's
investigations into Communist activity in the United States
during the Second Red Scare, Cohn served as McCarthy's chief counsel
and gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings.
He was also known for being a U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor at the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and later for representing Donald Trump during his early business career.
When Cohn brought on G. David Schine as chief consultant to the McCarthy staff, speculation arose that Schine and Cohn had a sexual relationship. Speculation about Cohn's sexuality intensified following his death from AIDS in 1986. Although some historians have concluded the Schine–Cohn friendship was platonic, others state, based on testimony of friends, that Cohn, at least, was homosexual. During the Army–McCarthy hearings, Cohn denied having any "special interest" in Schine or being bound to him "closer than to the ordinary friend." Joseph Welch, the Army's attorney in the hearings, made an apparent reference to Cohn's homosexuality. After asking a witness if a photo entered as evidence "came from a pixie", he defined "pixie" (a camera model name at the time) for McCarthy as "a close relative of a fairy." The people at the hearing recognized the allusion and found it amusing; Cohn later called the remark "malicious", "wicked", and "indecent."
In a 2008 article published in ''The New Yorker'' magazine, Jeffrey Toobin quotes Roger Stone: "Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men. Gays were weak, effeminate. He always seemed to have these young blond boys around. It just wasn't discussed. He was interested in power and access." Stone worked with Cohn beginning with the Ronald Reagan campaign during the 1976 Republican Party presidential primaries.
Cohn and McCarthy targeted many government officials and cultural figures not only for suspected Communist sympathies, but also for alleged homosexuality. McCarthy and Cohn were responsible for the firing of scores of gay men from government employment and strong-armed many opponents into silence using rumors of their homosexuality. Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson has written: "The so-called 'Red Scare' has been the main focus of most historians of that period of time. A lesser-known element … and one that harmed far more people was the witch-hunt McCarthy and others conducted against homosexuals."
In 1984, Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS and attempted to keep his condition secret while receiving experimental drug treatment. He participated in clinical trials of AZT, a drug initially synthesized to treat cancer but later developed as the first anti-HIV agent for AIDS patients. He insisted to his dying day that his disease was liver cancer. He died on August 2, 1986, in Bethesda, Maryland, of complications from AIDS, at the age of 59. According to Stone, Cohn's "absolute goal was to die completely broke and owing millions to the IRS. He succeeded in that." He was buried in Union Field Cemetery in Queens, New York.
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