Will “The Fat Man” Sell Out Jared?

Greetstreet, Bogart, Cook in “Maltese Falcon”


Given that Donald Trump yesterday began violating the Iran Accord, Rudy Giuliani’s wild gyrations on behalf of the president are small potatoes. Nevertheless, I can’t pass up how much he sounds like a character in The Maltese Falcon.

Interviewed by Fox’s Sean Hannity, Giuliani predicted ferocious pushback should special counsel Robert Mueller search Ivanka Trump’s offices. Ivanka’s husband, by contrast, appeared to be another matter:

Giuliani: Ivanka Trump? I think I would get on my charger and go right into – run into their offices with a lance if they go after her. … If they do do Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on him. They are going after his daughter?
Hannity: What about his son-in-law? You talked about him. 
Giuliani: I guess, Jared is a fine man. You know that. But men are, you know, disposable. But a fine woman like Ivanka? Come on. 

Jared has been in trouble for a while, from attempting to set up a back channel to Russia to extorting Qatar for real estate investments to lying on security forms. Might Trump jettison his son-in-law as readily as he has cut off others he regarded as impediments?

That’s what happens to Wilmer, the not-too-bright heavy in Maltese Falcon. Wilmer works for Casper Gutman (a.k.a. the Fat Man), who ultimately sells him out. The idea to do so is Sam Spade’s:

“Listen, Gutman, we’ve absolutely got to give them a victim. There’s no way out of it. Let’s give them the punk.” He nodded pleasantly at the boy in the doorway. “He actually did shoot both of them–Thursby and Jacobi–didn’t he? Anyway, he’s made to order for the part. Let’s pin the necessary evidence on him and turn him over to them.”

In the end Wilmer, perhaps like Jared, is deemed disposable:

The boy looked at Gutman.

Gutman smiled benignly at him and said: “Well, Wilmer, I’m sorry indeed to lose you, and I want you to know that I couldn’t be any fonder of you if you were my own son; but–well, by Gad!–if you lose a son it’s possible to get another–and there’s only one Maltese falcon.”

In our case, the Maltese falcon would be the Trump presidency. Jared makes a good fall guy, having been at the Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-affiliated lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump, Jr. was there as well, so the president could even drop the “if.” A son-in-law and a son could both take a bullet for Trump, claiming that the meeting was entirely their own idea and that the president knew nothing about it.

So maybe Trump escapes free and clear. After all, there is only one presidency. And by Gad! he’s already got other children.

Dashiell Hammet’s novel may also serve as a warning, however. The police report that Wilmer doesn’t take the betrayal well:

“Gutman’s dead. The kid had just finished shooting him up when we got there.”

Spade nodded. “He ought to have expected that,” he said.

Men like Gutman and Trump expect loyalty from everyone but themselves, but even the most devoted follower can flip and take you down.

Further thought: The Wilmer comparison applies even better to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who has been skirting the law for a while but may be nearing the end of his road. Trump allies have been alternately attacking Cohen (The New York Post) and placating him (Giuliani) in an apparent attempt to cover all possibilities. (The Post wants to undermine him in case he flips, Giuliani wants to reassure him that Trump has his back so that he wont flip.) Everyone assumes that Cohen will do real damage if he flips, which says a lot about the man who is president.

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