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Michael Cohen says Trump made racist remarks in conversations

The president once referred to a contestant on The Apprentice as a 'black f-g," Cohen told Vanity Fair, which cited several other examples.
Image: U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at his hotel in New York
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at his hotel in New York City on June 20, 2018.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, said in an interview published Friday that he has heard the president use racist language in one-on-one conversations on multiple occasions over the years.

In the interview, published by Vanity Fair, Cohen said Trump questioned the intelligence of black people, said black leaders can only run "sh--hole" cities and countries and called a former Apprentice contestant a "black f-g."

Cohen told the magazine that during the 2016 presidential election, Cohen told Trump during a meeting in Trump Tower that his rally at the time looked "looked vanilla" on TV, meaning white. Trump responded, "That's because black people are too stupid to vote for me."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Cohen was once one of Trump's most loyal defenders. But Cohen has publicly distanced himself from the president after pleading guilty to eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations in August.

The charges were related to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Cohen pledged to cooperate. He is to be sentenced in December.

Cohen, who previously said he'd be willing to "take a bullet" for Trump, told the magazine he knew that the president's private remarks were more disparaging than his public comments and he wanted to give voters a glimpse into Trump’s character before the midterm elections.

"I should have been a bigger person, and I should have left," Cohen told Vanity Fair, adding that he thought the presidency would change Trump. "I truly thought the office would change him."

Cohen recalled to the magazine another conversation he had with Trump in the late 2000s while traveling to Chicago for a meeting in which he disparaged African Americans again.

"We were going from the airport to the hotel, and we drove through what looked like a rougher neighborhood. Trump made a comment to me, saying that only the blacks could live like this," Cohen said.

Cohen also recounted when Trump talked after Nelson Mandela's death and criticized areas run by blacks.

"(Trump) said to me, 'Name one country run by a black person that's not a shithole,' and then he added, 'Name one city,'" Cohen said.

Trump also disparaged a black contestant on his reality TV show The Apprentice. Cohen said he and Trump were discussing the show's first season, which had Bill Rancic, who is white, going against Kwame Jackson, who is black, in the finale.

"Trump was explaining his back-and-forth about not picking Jackson," Cohen said. "He said, 'There's no way I can let this black f-g win.'"

Vanity Fair said Jackson confirmed that he had heard that the president made such a remark.

A source inside the Trump Organization slammed Cohen's allegations saying they were false and characterized them as "more lies from a serial liar."

"This is a guy who told the Daily Beast it’s not illegal to rape your wife and tweeted threatening comments about members of the media, but now has suddenly found God," the source said, referring to a threat Cohen made to a reporter who was writing a story on sexual assault allegations against Trump.

"The only person to blame for Michael's situation is Michael."

Trump has also distanced himself from Cohen. He previously derided Cohen, who worked for Trump for a decade, as "a PR person who did small legal work," and said it was "very sad" that Cohen had struck a deal to "achieve a lighter sentence."

Trump previously faced similar accusations when former Apprentice contestant and White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman claimed in August, without evidence, she had heard a tape of Trump using the N-word. The White House denied the allegation at the time.