Michael Cohen alleges in his new book that Trump made racist remarks about Black leaders, including Obama and Nelson Mandela

By Sean Neumann
September 07, 2020 03:32 PM
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President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama
Steve Pope/Getty; Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty

In his new book, President Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen reportedly recounts the lengths his former employer would go to disparage his predecessor, President Barack Obama, once hiring an impersonator so he could "fire" him during an Apprentice-style video he reportedly filmed for the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The segment never aired during the convention, but the video has been online since at least January 2013.

The new details about Trump's desire to create the clip has caused the video to resurface in the media after Cohen wrote about it in his memoir, Disloyal, which comes out Tuesday.

According to a report by The New York Times, Cohen, 54, describes how Trump hired “a Faux-Bama, or fake Obama, to record a video where Trump ritualistically belittled the first Black president and then fired him, a kind of fantasy fulfillment that it was hard to imagine any adult would spend serious money living out — until he did the functional equivalent in the real world.”

Trump, 74, has long held a public disdain for Obama, 59, and has a history of making racist remarks towards Black leaders and immigrants from predominantly Black countries.

Cohen's new book alleges a number of previously unreported instances in which Trump made such comments.

Trump helped build his political profile ahead of the 2016 election by continuously pushing a false conspiracy theory that claimed Obama wasn't born in the U.S., while he's repeatedly attacked his Democratic predecessor throughout his first term in office by promoting other baseless conspiracy theories about Obama and the former administration.

The Republican president has also routinely insulted the former president and his administration's members, calling them "human scum."

Obama largely avoided criticizing Trump throughout his presidency, until the former president began swiping at Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic before fully warning voters during the Democratic National Convention that he believes "Democracy itself is on the line" in the 2020 election between his successor and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, his former vice president.

In another part of the book, according to The Washington Post, Cohen writes that Trump allegedly said he believes Obama only got accepted into Harvard Law and Columbia University because of “f------ affirmative action.”

The Post reports that Cohen's book also alleges the president made racist remarks towards Black people in general, including prominent world leaders like Obama and late South African President Nelson Mandela.

“As a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all Black folks, from music to culture and politics,” Cohen reportedly writes about the president, who he says also claimed Mandela "was no leader."

“Mandela f---ed the whole country up," Cohen writes that Trump said about the South African president, who led the country out of apartheid. "Now it’s a s---hole. F--- Mandela. He was no leader.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation responded to Trump's reported remarks about the South African leader on Monday afternoon.

"We do not believe that leaders who conduct themselves in the way Mr. Trump does are in a position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work of Madiba," the organization said, referencing Mandela by a term of endearment for the late president.

The statement continued: "Reflecting on leadership, Madiba once said: 'A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.' We would recommend these words to Mr. Trump for consideration."

Then President-elect Donald Trump sits with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office in November 2016, shortly after Trump won the 2016 election.

In the tell-all's forward, Cohen describes Trump as “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany disputed the content of Cohen's book in a statement to PEOPLE. “Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress," McEnany said. "He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”

Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress about Trump’s prior business dealings with Russia, and illegal “hush money” he paid during the 2016 presidential election to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal — who both claim they had affairs with Trump.

Michael Cohen testifying to Congress in 2019
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Cohen also reportedly writes that Trump once allegedly said: “Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a s---hole."

The remarks echo a 2018 Washington Post report that Trump referred to Haiti and other African nations as "s---hole countries" during an Oval Office meeting, as well as a 2017 New York Times report that Trump once said immigrants from Haiti "all have AIDS."

In other moments throughout his presidency, Trump has stoked racial division — perhaps most infamously in the wake of an extremist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 by telling reporters there was "blame on both sides."

Trump also has a history of swiping at opponents who are people of color, saying last year that four congresswomen of color should "go back" to their "crime-infested" home countries despite three of them being born in the U.S.

Most recently, when civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis died in July and had his body laid in state at the Capitol, Trump did not make the two-mile trip to participate in the memorial. He was also conspicuously absent at Lewis' funeral in Atlanta, which was attended by three former presidents.

The White House did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment at the time about Trump's absence at both memorials. When asked during an Axios interview what Lewis' legacy will be, Trump said: “I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis."

Cohen writes, according to the Post, that Trump's racist remarks were directed at a number of minority populations, alleging that during the 2016 election the future president said people of minority populations were "not my people."

“I will never get the Hispanic vote,” Trump once claimed, according to Cohen's book. “Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump.”