President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said Trump repeatedly made racist remarks in the years he's known him.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cohen said Trump called African-Americans "too stupid to vote" for him during his 2016 presidential campaign, said every country with a black leader was a "s---hole," and explained his choice of winner for the first season of "The Apprentice" by saying he couldn't let a "black f-- win."
Cohen worked for Trump as a personal lawyer between 2006 and May 2018. The earliest time he told Vanity Fair he heard Trump make racist remarks was in the late 2000s, when the two were discussing his NBC show "The Apprentice."
Cohen asked Trump why he picked Bill Rancic, who is white, over Kwame Jackson, who is black and who graduated from Harvard's business school.
Trump said it's because Jackson was African-American, and used a homophobic slur to describe him.
"There's no way I can let this black f-- win," Trump said, according to Cohen.
On another occasion, Cohen says the two men were talking after Nelson Mandela's death in 2013 and Trump disparaged all counties and cities led by black people.
"[Trump] said to me, 'Name one country run by a black person that's not a s---hole,' and then he added, 'Name one city,'" Cohen recalled.
The comments were later echoed during Trump's presidency, when he described Haiti and African countries as "s---holes" in a meeting with Nigeria's president.
And during the 2016 election, Cohen observed that the crowd was mostly white. Trump used the opportunity to disparage African-Americans.
"That's because black people are too stupid to vote for me," Cohen recalls Trump saying.
On another occasion, in the late 2000s, Cohen said Trump criticised African-Americans for living in "a rougher neighbourhood" in Chicago.
"We were going from the airport to the hotel, and we drove through what looked like a rougher neighbourhood. Trump made a comment to me, saying that only the blacks could live like this," Cohen said.
In addition to being Trump's personal counsel for 12 years, Cohen also served as a vice president of the Trump Organisation and worked on many of Trump's various other companies and operations. He was also the deputy finance chairperson of the Republican National Committee between 2017 and 2018.
Cohen is engaged in a legal tangle with the president following a federal investigation that blossomed after he made hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations related to the probe in August and said Trump personally directed the payment. Trump has distanced himself from Cohen.
Cohen told Vanity Fair he's speaking up about Trump now - and supporting Democrats in the midterm elections - because he wanted to offer voters more evidence of Trump's character. He reportedly used similar reasoning when deciding to plead guilty to his campaign finance violations. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cohen's father told him he didn't survive the Holocaust for Trump to ruin his name.
Cohen is reportedly co-operating with investigators in the Southern District of New York, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and New York State for various investigations into Trump's personal and political life. He faces sentencing in December.
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