In Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail, dialogue from The Godfather is presented as the urtext, the key to the masculine code, “the sum of all wisdom,” as Tom Hanks’s character emails Meg Ryan’s at one point in the film. In the shadowy, conspiratorial circle that so often seems to surround Donald Trump, the Mafia’s cryptic lingo plays the same role.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone charges that Stone urged Randy Credico, the radio personality who Mueller says served as Stone’s intermediary with WikiLeaks, to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’ ’’ and lie to the House Intelligence Committee, rather than contradict Stone’s 2017 testimony that he and Credico had not exchanged any messages during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In fact, Mueller’s indictment alleges, Stone and Credico had texted and emailed each other often during the campaign, including exchanges about WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization that spread stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In the end, Credico took the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify.
Frank Pentangeli, or Frankie Five Angels, is a character in The Godfather: Part II, a Corleone-family capo turned rival prepared to tell a Senate committee that Michael Corleone heads the most powerful organized-crime family in the nation, controls gambling throughout the country, has ordered numerous murders, and has committed a couple himself. Then, after a single intimidating glance from his Sicilian brother, whom Michael has flown in for the occasion, he recants and soon slits his wrists in a bathtub suicide.