The famously sassy dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster tweeted a perfect word ahead of Wednesday’s congressional testimony from Michael Cohen, who once was Donald Trump’s personal attorney and fixer.
Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account declared Wednesday’s word of the day as “grift,” which means “to obtain (money) illicitly.”
“Grift” is a great word to know. And it’s right on time. Cohen’s prepared remarks say he’ll tell the House oversight committee on Wednesday that Trump regularly lied to the American people and repaid Stormy Daniels’ hush money with personal checks.
Cohen says Trump gave him a check “when he was President of the United States ― pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea.”
“The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws,” Cohen says in his prepared statement.
This, by definition, is grifting.
To further hammer the point, Bloomberg on Wednesday published an article headlined: “Michael Cohen’s Testimony Portrays President Trump as a Serial Grifter.”
Outside of politics, grifting has been a major topic, from stories about 25-year-old Anna Delvey, who conned friends into thinking she was a wealthy socialite, to former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who faces charges of lying about her now-defunct company’s “revolutionary” blood testing.
In November, the podcast “Dirty John” became the basis for a television show that showed Connie Britton’s Debra Newell being swindled by the psychologically manipulative and handsome John, played by Eric Bana. In February, The New Yorker published an expose of writer Daniel Mallory, who admitted lying about having cancer.
Grifters are fascinating creatures, and scamming is happening all around us all the time. The idea of grifting and why we’re intrigued was nicely put by Katie Heaney in The Cut: “What we like about stories about scammers, I think, is born of the place where envy meets outrage: It’s incredibly unfair, and definitely evil, but also, why didn’t I think of that?”