On Tuesday, mourners gathered in Pittsburgh to honor the victims of the harrowing attack on the Tree of Life synagogue. Days earlier, as they observed Shabbat, 11 Jews were murdered.
Robert Bowers, the alleged suspect, later told a SWAT officer that he wanted all Jews to die. (Bowers has since pleaded not guilty.) The tragedy united thousands of Jews in Pittsburgh, who peacefully protested Donald Trump’s visit to the synagogue earlier this week. It also consumed a far larger constituency, which remained aghast that the alleged killer was motivated by fear fanned by the president of the United States.
Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, was among those closely following the story. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Cohen has remained largely silent since the F.B.I. executed search warrants on his home, hotel room, and office this past spring. In August, he pleaded guilty to charges related to campaign-finance violations and tax fraud, and at the advice of counsel, he has not spoken publicly about his case or his relationship with the president ever since. Privately, he has been cooperating with investigators in the Southern District of New York, the special counsel’s office, and New York State. (He faces sentencing in the Southern District next month.) Yet Cohen wanted to express himself in the wake of the tragedy. Shortly after the sun rose on Tuesday, he tweeted, “In honor of those sadly being buried today resulting from #AntiSemitism #PittsburghSynagogueShooting, let’s follow the wisdom and thoughtful words of #RabbiJeffreyMyers ‘it can’t just be to say we need to stop hate. We need to do, we need to act to tone down rhetoric.’”
Like many, Cohen has observed the president’s scorched-earth campaign tactics as the midterm elections approach, and as the prospect of a Democratic House majority beckons, with its attendant promise of investigations and inquiries. He has heard Trump’s constant invocation of the migrant caravan moving through Central America; he’s noticed the president threaten to revoke birthright citizenship; he’s noted Trump’s tweet calling Florida’s African-American gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, a “thief,” without any evidence. He also watched Trump shirk responsibility after it was discovered that Bowers invoked the caravan in posts online ahead of the mass murder in Pittsburgh, and after one of his ardent supporters was charged last week with mailing pipe bombs to notable Democrats and other frequent Trumpian targets. (The suspect plans to plead not guilty.) On Twitter and during rallies, Trump has referred to the media as “the enemy of the people,” blaming the free press for “the anger we see today in our society.”
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SOURCE: EMILY JANE FOX