This story is part of Salty Queers, quick takes on the pop culture and political news that has us marinating in bitterness.
New year, same circus. 🤡
For what it’s worth, U.S. President Donald Trump is at least consistent with his clownery, adding yet another homophobia-fuelled action to his record.
According to The Fixers, a new book by investigative journalists Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld, Trump allegedly fumigated all of the dishes and silverware at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, after the final visit of his friend and former attorney Roy Cohn in 1986, who by then was dying of AIDS-related illnesses.
Palazzolo and Rothfeld claim Trump told the story while dining with friends in late December 2016, three weeks before he assumed the presidency. That’s far, far too late in human history to be making distasteful jokes about HIV.
Here’s how the story goes: In 1986, Trump invited Cohn for “what seemed like a farewell dinner at Mar-a-Lago,” Newsweek reports. At the time, Cohn’s sexual orientation was deemed an open secret, and though he claimed to have fallen ill with liver cancer, Cohn was dying from AIDS-related illnesses. Trump allegedly went all out, decorating the dinner table with “ornate place settings” and “gold candelabra” to say goodbye to his dear friend and confidant.
Flash-forward 30 years: During a storytime session in 2016, Trump recalled the visit oh so fondly, telling his guests that after Cohn left he spent “a fortune to fumigate all the dishes and silverware.” 👀
We’re not certain if Trump actually fumigated his dishes or just made a really, really bad joke. But if he did fumigate, Mr. President wasted a lot of $$$ (and should demand a refund): HIV, as we obviously know, cannot be transmitted through shared kitchenware.
But truly, we’re not even surprised he told this story. Throughout his presidency, Trump has made some grand, problematic claims on HIV and AIDS-related topics. During a rally last summer, Trump said he would end the AIDS epidemic and childhood cancer if re-elected. He also said that under his administration, NASA will focus on Mars because the moon is “not so exciting”—because any and all grandiose promises go in the Trump administration. Sorry to this moon 🌚🌝.
We need not forget that the Trump administration has also repeatedly tried to cut Medicare and Medicaid—programs that allow many Americans to afford PrEP and anti-HIV medications. And in 2017, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned from their positions, claiming in an op-ed that “Trump doesn’t care about HIV.”
And for the record, Cohn was also an interesting personality: In the 1950s, he was the chief counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy during the Red Scare and subsequent investigations into alleged communists. He and McCarthy were also responsible for the firing of gay government workers. Cohn later came to represent Trump when the president was still a young developer growing his real-estate empire, and Trump even testified as a character witness in the ’80s, when Cohn was disbarred for a whole slew of ethical breaches. Two peas in a pod.
The White House has not yet responded to any media requests on the matter. We’re not holding our breath to hear back.