US President Donald Trump’s disgraced former lawyer is back with a “tell-all” book where he alleges Mr Trump’s children tried to talk him out of running and that he hired an actor to play a “fake Obama” so he could “fire” him.
The claims, of which there are many more, have been dismissed by the White House as “fan-fiction”.
Advance copies of Michael Cohen’s book Disloyal: A Memoir was given to US media ahead of its release on Tuesday.
Michael Cohen was Donald Trump’s lawyer from 2006 until May 2018.
By December of that year he had been sentenced to three years in a minimum security federal prison and fined $US50,000 for tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations, beginning his sentence in May of last year.
He was released in May of this year to spend his sentence on house arrest following concerns about COVID-19 in the prison, but was sent back after being seen dining at a Manhattan restaurant in July.
He returned to house arrest two weeks later, after arguing sending him back to prison was an attempt to prevent him releasing the book.
According to US outlets including CNN and the Washington Post, the book contains a number of wild allegations.
THE FAKE OBAMA
According to Mr Cohen, Mr Trump hired an actor to play a “faux-Bama” in a video where Mr Trump “ritualistically belittled the first black president and then fired him”.
Mr Cohen doesn’t name the actor hired to play Mr Obama, but a photo is reportedly included in the book.
The actor’s face doesn’t appear in the alleged video that has since been posted to YouTube.
Mr Trump allegedly hoped the video would be shown at the 2012 Republican National Convention but it never was.
Mr Cohen reportedly alleges Mr Trump described Mr Obama as a “a Manchurian candidate” while he publicly questioned his birthplace.
Mr Cohen also alleges Mr Trump thought Mr Obama’s arts degree from Columbia University was the result of affirmative action and nothing more.
WHY TRUMP LOVES PUTIN
Mr Cohen alleges Mr Trump admired Russian President Vladimir Putin, for a simple reason: he mistakenly thought Mr Putin was the richest person in the world.
He alleges Trump admired Putin’s ability “to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company — like the Trump Organisation, in fact”.
“Locking up your political enemies, criminalising dissent, terrifying or bankrupting the free press through libel lawsuits — Trump‘s all-encompassing vision wasn’t evident to me before he began to run for president,” Mr Cohen reportedly writes.
”I honestly believe the most extreme ideas about power and its uses only really took shape as he began to seriously contemplate the implications of taking power and how he could leverage it to the absolute maximum level possible.”
But he stops short of alleging there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Mr Putin’s Russia.
“What appeared to be collusion was really a confluence of shared interests in harming Hillary Clinton in any way possible, up to and including interfering in the American election — a subject that caused Trump precisely zero unease,” Mr Cohen writes.
CHILDREN’S PLEA TO TRUMP’S LAWYER
“You’ve got to get dad to stop the campaign. It’s killing the company,” Mr Cohen alleges Ivanka Trump said to him when three of Mr Trump’s children came to Mr Cohen’s office, pleading with him to convince his boss to drop out.
Mr Cohen reportedly goes on to say Mr Trump wasn’t concerned by the impact on business stemming from his labelling of Mexicans as criminals and rapists.
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing their problems,” Mr Trump said at the 2015 campaign announcement.
“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.”
Mr Cohen said Mr Trump thought he “will never get the Hispanic vote” because “like the blacks, they’re too stupid” to vote for him.
“They’re not my people,” Mr Cohen alleges Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump ended up securing 28 per cent of the Latino vote at the 2016 election.
‘THEY’D THINK IT’S COOL THAT I SLEPT WITH A PORN STAR’
Perhaps Mr Cohen’s most well-known involvement with Mr Trump’s ascendancy to President was the $US130,000 he allegedly paid pornstar Stormy Daniels after she claimed to have a sexual affair with Mr Trump back in 2006.
Mr Cohen alleges Mr Trump signed-off on the payment Mr Cohen made to Ms Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election, saying he would have to pay his wife more than that if she found out anyway.
“It never pays to settle these things, but many, many friends have advised me to pay,” Mr Trump allegedly told Mr Cohen.
“If it comes out, I’m not sure how it would play with my supporters. But I bet they’d think it’s cool that I slept with a porn star,” Mr Cohen alleges Mr Trump said.
BUT CAN WE TRUST COHEN?
Mr Cohen reportedly acknowledges he’s hardly a reliable narrator, given his personal involvement in many of the very alleged acts he criticises Mr Trump for, even describing himself as Mr Trump’s “designated thug”.
He’s also a convicted criminal, currently serving his sentence on house arrest, and has been disbarred by the New York Supreme Court.
The White House has sought to capitalise on this in response to the book.
“Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement to the Washington Post.
“He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”
In a separate statement, White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said Mr Cohen “readily admits to lying routinely but expects people to believe him now so that he can make money from book sales”.
“It’s unfortunate that the media is exploiting this sad and desperate man to attack president Trump,” Mr Morgenstern added.
For his part, Mr Cohen believes he was made a scapegoat.
“I was in the grip of the conviction machine,” he writes. “I was the ham sandwich, and I had been indicted.”
He claims he was “railroaded into prison by federal prosecutors who‘d since gone on to high paying white-shoe law firms, with my conviction as their signature achievement”.