Finally, Trump news produces a Conn College graduate to be proud of

Almost from the start, the emergence of Sean Spicer, Connecticut College Class of '93, as press secretary for President Donald Trump, produced one cringe-worthy moment after another for fellow alumni like me, starting with the lies about the size of the Trump inaugural crowds.

The college officially took some notice of the prominent appointment of one its own when Spicer was named Trump spokesman, and then, it seemed to me, many in the college community tried their best to look away, until Spicer finally slid down the crowded Trump Administration exit chute.

Now, though, from the ever-spinning news juggernaut from the Trump presidency, comes another prominent player — this one in a white hat — with a Connecticut College degree.

U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood, who this week lit up newscasts when her demand from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for the name of his secret client dragged Fox host Sean Hannity into the messy story, graduated from Conn in 1965.

Wood, presiding over the resolution of what was seized in FBI raids at Cohen's office and home, will have much influence over the course of an investigation that some legal analysts believe puts President Trump in even more peril than the one by special counsel Robert Mueller.

There is almost certainly a roadmap to all the Trump unsavory business done by the Trump fixer, like paying off porn stars, in the volumes of material seized from Cohen and now overseen by Wood.

Headlines are not new to the Connecticut College alumna, who colleagues describe as a brilliant jurist.

Wood, 74, was nominated by Bill Clinton to be attorney general but her name was withdrawn after it was discovered that she had hired an undocumented immigrant, the situation that had just killed the prospects for the first nominee, Zoe Baird.

Unlike Baird, Wood had been paying taxes for her employee and was sponsoring her for a green card, legal at the time. Still, apparently Clinton officials thought the public would not understand the distinction and backed off Wood.

Wood made headlines for her tough sentencing of junk bond king Michael Milken, whom she sentenced to 10 years in prison, later reduced after he cooperated with the government.

She also has been tabloid fodder, including a short stint training as a card-dealing Playboy bunny at a London casino and then as the "Love Judge" when a secret affair with the Wall Street financier Frank Richardson, whom she later married, became public and excerpts of his diary were published.

He described her as "absolutely wonderful, very intelligent, a complete woman, and able to give love wonderfully and freely."

Something tells me that doesn't give Cohen consolation.

I read a lot about Wood this week after learning about her connection to New London, and came away with enormous respect.

After leaving Conn, where she graduated cum laude, she attended the London School of Economics, where she earned a master's degree, then studied at Harvard Law School, where she was among only 6 percent of her graduating class who were female.

Her early legal career focused on the male-dominated world of anti-trust law and she was the lone woman among 45 lawyers at her first firm.

At 44 years old, she became the youngest of 21 judges on the Manhattan Federal Court, after being appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan.

She took some heat this week from Republican critics of the investigation, suggesting a liberal bias because she presided over the wedding of prominent Democratic donor George Soros.  She declined to comment about the wedding, but a spokesman for the court this week said her husband once sat on the board of Soros' company, but she and her husband only rarely see him at large social gatherings.

The Soros wedding is one of more than 40 she has presided over in her time as a judge.

Another Conn College alum, Warren Cohen, writing in the May/June 1994 edition of The Connecticut College Magazine, noted that Wood's harsh sentencing of Milken resonated as if "she was passing judgment on the so-called decade of greed."

Warren Cohen quoted her telling Milken at the sentencing: "When a man of your power in the financial world ... repeatedly conspires to violate and violates securities tax laws in order to achieve more power and wealth for himself and his wealthy clients and commits financial crimes that are particularly hard to detect, a significant prison term is required in order to help deter others."

Wow. Those words ought to haunt the White House these days.

I'm glad to know that a Connecticut College alum is now squarely on the side of seeing that justice is done, not retelling Trump's lies.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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