"In short, I was becoming Donald Trump"
Michael Cohen published his memoir of his time as Donald Trump’s fixer on Tuesday, greeted by a White House statement calling him a “disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer”, and a liar.
It was pointed out in return that Cohen was convicted of lying to Congress in order to protect Trump – himself a well-catalogued liar – over his links to Russia and payments to women which may have violated campaign finance law.
Cohen was also convicted of lying to a financial institution and tax fraud. He is still serving a three-year sentence, begun in a federal institution but now at home in New York because of the coronavirus.
Cohen beat official attempts to stop his book, and Disloyal was duly leaked, to be picked over by the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press.
Those reports revealed Cohen’s claims about Trump’s racism and hatred of Barack Obama; his admiration for Vladimir Putin and his business interests in Russia; his mutually beneficial relationship with the National Enquirer tabloid; and his brutal treatment of women, including a vulgar sexual remark about a 15-year-old he did not know was Cohen’s daughter.
Cohen also gave an interview to NBC, in which he called the president a “cult leader” who should resign, to receive a pardon from Mike Pence and thereby avoid criminal charges. He also said he thought Trump would “manipulate the ballots” or “start a war” in order to avoid losing the White House to Joe Biden in November.
“Donald Trump will do anything and everything within which to win. And I believe that includes manipulating the ballots,” Michael Cohen tells @LesterHoltNBC. pic.twitter.com/XtRjGivvKO
But other stories are still emerging from the book. For example, Cohen piles on embarrassments for Donald Trump Jr, a top campaign surrogate for his father, offering further detail into what was included in testimony to Congress about the president’s brittle relationship with his oldest child.
Cohen describes Trump confronting his son over his fondness for trophy hunting, a hobby pursued with his brother Eric Trump to the fury of conservationists and delight of political opponents.
“‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ Trump screamed at his namesake. ‘You think you’re a big man sitting on the rocks and then boom! You kill some fucking animal? Then you drag your brother into this bullshit? Why the fuck would you post photos like that? Get the fuck out of my office.’”
Donald Jr, Cohen writes, “left without a word, head downcast”.
The president’s distaste for his sons’ hunting was also detailed in Melania & Me, a recent tell-all by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide and friend to the first lady. According to Wolkoff, the first lady’s lobbying was behind Trump changing his mind on reversing an Obama-era ban on importing big game trophies.
Cohen says his own relationship with Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, was mostly warm. But he says Trump “didn’t particularly like Jared Kushner”, Ivanka’s husband, tolerating him because he will “do as he’s told, with discretion, in a way that Trump can’t find in other advisers”.
Cohen writes: “The truth was that all three kids were starved for their father’s love … abandoned by their egomaniacal dad and humiliated when he openly cheated on their mother, and now all three are forever trapped in a cycle of seeking his attention.”
Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka are Trump’s children with his first wife, Ivana Trump. Cohen writes that those three children referred to his fourth child, Tiffany Trump, whose mother was Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples, as the “red-haired stepchild”.
He also describes the president and Ivanka Trump belittling Tiffany’s looks.
Tiffany spoke in support of her father at last month’s Republican convention. Barron Trump, 14, whose mother is first lady Melania Trump, attended but did not speak.
Cohen quotes the first lady as saying she did not “care what people say or write” about her husband’s many alleged affairs.
“But she knew,” Cohen writes.
“She knew everything, but she didn’t do what most wives would do and insist on the whole story.”
Disloyal also offers Cohen’s side of the story about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, a porn star, and Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, who claimed affairs with Trump which Trump denies.
Those payments, the mechanics of which Cohen explains, are at the heart of an attempt by prosecutors in New York to obtain financial information Trump has refused to disclose.
Cohen says Trump was not concerned that the first lady might leave him.
“I can always get another wife,” he says Trump told him. “That’s no problem for me. If she wants to go, so be it.”
Cohen also says Donald Jr, who divorced the mother of his five children and who many think could run for the Republican nomination in 2024, “more and more resembles his father”.
Cohen was notoriously brutal to reporters and anyone else who might damage the man he protected. In his book, he details dreams of living like a gangster.
The White House statement released on Saturday implied he made it at least some of the way there, calling Cohen “a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress. He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”
Nonetheless, Disloyal shows just how close Cohen came to the corridors of power. In October 2016, when a tape of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women was released, the man who made such problems go away was in London, “catching up with some folks we knew who lived in the United Kingdom”.
Cohen includes a picture with one such individual. It is “former PM Tony Blair”.
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden squared off in a combative but restrained debate Thursday night that gave voters their final chance to size the candidates up before heading to the polls Nov. 3. Trump dialed it back in Nashville after his disruptive previous showing in the first debate in Cleveland late last month resulted in handwringing from within his own party. But there were still plenty of clashes, as the candidates got personal with stinging attacks focused on their families, race and immigration.
New York and its fellow cities branded anarchist jurisdictions by the Trump administration will file a lawsuit challenging a move to pull their federal funds. The Justice Department last month slapped the label on New York, Seattle, and Portland, saying they could lose federal funding because the administration believes they have failed to rein in “violence and destruction of property” on their streets. The “anarchist jurisdiction” designation came after President Trump ordered the DOJ to identify cities that, in his view, were not responding aggressively enough to protests and crime.
President Trump on Thursday posted his full interview with "60 Minutes" ahead of its scheduled air time in an apparent attempt to undercut the news program after he walked out on the interview, bristling at questioning from journalist Lesley Stahl. The president posted the nearly 40-minute sit-down to his Facebook page with the caption: "Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS....Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse!" Trump added, referencing the NBC News anchor who will moderate the presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn.
The watchdog for the United States Postal Service released a report this week, in which it found that operational changes implemented in June and July had a negative impact on mail delivery across the country.