WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, alleges in a new book that Trump made “overt and covert attempts to get Russia to interfere in the 2016 election” and that the future commander in chief was also well aware of Cohen’s hush-money payoff to adult-film star Stormy Daniels during that campaign.
In the book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” which was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its Tuesday publication date, Cohen lays out an alarming portrait of the constellation of characters orbiting around Trump, likening the arrangement to the mafia and calling himself “one of Trump’s bad guys.” He describes the president, meanwhile, as “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”
The memoir also describes episodes of Trump’s alleged racism and his “hatred and contempt” of his predecessor, Barack Obama, the nation’s only African American president.
Cohen acknowledges his own challenges as a credible narrator throughout the 432-page book, which is subtitled “The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump.” He describes himself as Trump’s “designated thug” and discusses his felony convictions for lying to Congress and violating campaign laws in service to Trump. Cohen, who now advocates Trump’s defeat in November, is still serving a three-year federal prison sentence for those crimes and for personal financial offenses.
On Russia, Cohen writes that the cause behind Trump’s admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is simpler than many of his critics assume. Above all, he writes, Trump loves money – and he wrongly identified Putin as “the richest man in the world by a multiple.”
Trump loved Putin, Cohen wrote, because the Russian leader had the ability “to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company – like the Trump Organization, in fact.”
Cohen also reveals new alleged details about the convoluted effort behind a National Enquirer report smearing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cohen says that Trump signed off on the baseless report to damage Cruz, one of his rivals in the 2016 Republican primary.
“It’s not real, right?” Trump allegedly asked after being shown a photograph, which the magazine would claim depicted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
“Looks real to me!” Cohen responded, according to the book, prompting Trump to laugh as he demanded that the story be run on the tabloid’s front page.
“To say it would be a low blow would be an insult to low blows; can you think of another politician, ever, who would stoop this low?” Cohen writes.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany attacked Cohen’s credibility in a statement Saturday: “Michael Cohen is 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.”
According to Cohen, Trump’s sycophantic praise of the Russian leader during the 2016 campaign began as a way to suck up and ensure access to the oligarch’s money after he lost the election. But he claims Trump came to understand that Putin’s hatred of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, dating to her support for the 2011 protest movement in Russia, could also help Trump amass more power in the United States.
“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,” Cohen writes.
Cohen’s book, however, does not reveal much in the way of new details surrounding the investigations by former special counsel Robert Mueller III and others into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
A senior White House official dismissed Cohen’s commentary on Russia as baseless, arguing that numerous investigations found “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Cohen asserts that another reason that Trump consistently praised Putin was to fulfill his long-held desire to slap his name on a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.
Cohen says the Trump Tower plans called for a 120-story building in Red Square, including 30 floors devoted to a five-star hotel with an Ivanka Trump-branded spa and Trump restaurants, and 230 high-end condominiums for Russian oligarchs and leaders.
The plan, Cohen adds, was to give the penthouse apartment to the Russian president for free, in part “as a way to suck up to Putin.”
“The whole idea of patriotism and treason became irrelevant in his mind,” Cohen writes. “Trump was using the campaign to make money for himself: of course he was.”
Trump would later publicly insist that he had no business dealings with Russia. But Cohen writes extensively of his own efforts beginning in the fall of 2015 – several months after Trump had declared his candidacy – to make the Moscow project a reality.
The project fell to Cohen, he writes, because Trump’s children all disliked Felix Sater, the colorful Russian American developer who served as the Trump Organization’s liaison with Russians interested in the project.
Nevertheless, Cohen says the whole family was aware of the project, even as candidate Trump publicly said he had no ties to Russia. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, who is now a senior White House adviser, even selected the proposed tower’s high-end finishes, Cohen writes.
Ivanka and her lawyers have previously described her involvement in the Russia project as minimal, noting that she never visited the prospective site.
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