President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly threatened some Harvard pranksters way back in 2015.
During a "60 Minutes" interview over the weekend, Tom Waddick, a senior at the university and a member of its satirical magazine the Harvard Lampoon, detailed how the publication had duped the Trump team into thinking they were from the more prestigious Harvard Crimson.
Waddick and his fellow staffers stole a coveted chair from the Crimson, and got in touch with Trump’s campaign team. They set up a time to meet with the candidate under the auspices of giving him the Crimson’s endorsement.
Occasionally the Lampoon pulls off an epic prank. Current senior Tom Waddick may have set a new standard by tricking candidate Donald Trump to sit in a chair stolen from student newspaper--and frequent target--The Harvard Crimson. The ruse? The Crimson endorsed Mr. Trump. pic.twitter.com/PyuzN0Gayg— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 8, 2018
Agreeing to meet with them, Trump’s campaign had the students bring the Crimson’s furniture item to Trump Tower in New York, where they posed with the candidate and even got a picture of him giving a “thumb’s up” with Lampoon staffers while sitting in the chair.
Days later, however, the mood soured. After the campaign found out it was all a ruse, Trump’s lawyer did what he apparently does best: threatened them all with retaliatory measures.
“He says, you know, ‘I’m gonna come up to Harvard. You’re all gonna get expelled,” Waddick explained Cohen said. “‘If this photo gets out you’ll be outta that school faster than you know it. I can be up there tomorrow.’”
The Lampoon still published the photos, without any retribution from Cohen or Trump coming afterward.
Yet the intimidation and threats coming from Trump through his legal surrogate Cohen is more reminiscent of the mob than a political leader. How many others are in similar situations, afraid to come forward with information about the president, because they’re concerned for their personal well-being or reputation?
Fear is a tactic that works in a lot of situations. But the use of fear by Cohen and Trump is demonstrative of the kind of leader Trump wants to be — and precisely the kind of leader Americans should reject.