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Devils in America: A Short Play

Joel Schechter
January 17, 2018

by Joel Schechter


Author’s Note:  The following short play was not written by Tony Kushner.  It offers dialogue missing from Kushner’s play, Angels in America,  which originally featured several other scenes with the late American lawyer and McCarthyism enabler Roy Cohn. More recently,  the current President of the United States expressed a wish that his old friend and advisor, Roy Cohn, or the equivalent, could serve him as Attorney General in the Justice Department. Cohn was in fact disbarred from legal practice before his death. With all that in mind, the following sketch imagines a previously unrecorded meeting between Donald Trump and Roy Cohn in the 1980s.  Any resemblance to people living or deceased is coincidental,  and should be considered theatrical fiction (with apologies to Tony Kushner).

Characters: Roy Cohn, Donald Trump

Setting:  Cohn’s New York office,  mid-1980s


Cohn:  You have to stop calling me six times a day, Donald.  I know your casino is losing   money. Even though it’s the tallest building in Atlantic City, it’s still losing money.

Trump:  Sad, very sad. I want you to sue the manager.

Cohn:  We could sue the Holiday Corporation, and we would win.  But there’s another solution here.  I have friends in Atlantic City.

Trump: The Mob.

Cohn:  Never call them the Mob. Some of my friends are distinguished businessmen in the construction industry like you. And some are entertainment entrepreneurs  who specialize in overnight accommodations and games of chance. Their hotel beds are filled with most beautiful men and women in the world.

Trump:  I know those beds.

Cohn:  Some of my friends never pay income tax. That’s why they need a lawyer.

Trump:  Smart.  Your friends should be my friends.

Cohn:  I checked with Carmine the Cigar Galante.  He says you can buy out Holiday’s casino for $70 million.  Why sue them when you can own them? Buy them first, hen tell them to go to hell.  Can you get hold of  $70 million by Monday?

Trump: Debt is wonderful. I’m the King of Debt.

Cohn: Someday you’re going to own all of Atlantic City, Don.  Play your cards right and you’ll be the next governor of New Jersey.

Trump:  I’d rather be President. Turn the whole country into a casino.

Cohn:  I could see that, yes, Trump in the White House  with his fashion model wife, what’s her name?

Trump: Ivana.  We’re getting divorced.

Cohn: So you’ll be there with your second wife, or your third wife, what the hell. Anyway,  the tabloids will love you in the White House. Playboy  President bets U.S. Treasury in a poker game with  Russia. Or will it be China? The whole world on edge.  I’d vote for you.  Let’s go celebrate your election at Studio 54.

Trump:  Yeah.  You’re going to be my first Attorney General, Roy.


(Sources include Sidney Blumenthal’s article, “The First Family,”  London Review of Books, February 16, 2017.)


Joel Schechter is a contributing writer of Jewish Currents, and author of Radical Yiddish. Since Trump’s inauguration, Joel has written several playlets about the new administration, including “Christmas with the Trumps. Khanike Too” and “The Flood at Mar-a-Lago.”