'Blacks are too stupid to vote for me, said Trump'
His former lawyer recounts a litany of racist slurs he heard uttered by the US president
Donald Trump once claimed black people were “too stupid” to vote for him and regularly used explicitly racist language before coming into office, his former lawyer has claimed.
Michael Cohen, who served as the president’s lawyer and fixer for a decade, claimed he witnessed Trump making derogatory comments about black people throughout the 2016 election campaign.
In his first interview since pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, Cohen told Vanity Fair magazine that Trump said “black people are too stupid to vote for me” after he made an observation that crowds at the candidate’s rallies were largely caucasian.
Cohen further claimed that after Nelson Mandela’s death, Trump said: “Name one country run by a black person that’s not a shithole.” He added that Trump once said of his decision not to pick a black Harvard graduate on The Apprentice that “there’s no way I can let this black fucking win”.
Cohen has publicly split from Trump since he was charged with campaign finance violations and tax fraud earlier this year. He pleaded guilty to several charges, claiming he violated election laws at the direction of Trump, to pay a porn star hush money.
It is not the first time Trump has been accused of racism. Earlier this year he faced claims he had referred to African nations as “shithole countries”.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aide, also claimed Trump had used the n-word during filming of The Apprentice. At the time, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said she could not “guarantee” that Trump had never used the slur.
The White House has not responded to the latest claims, which came after a week in which the US president amplified his hardline stance on immigration, even suggesting US soldiers could open fire on a migrant caravan if its members threw rocks.
In an address from the White House on Thursday evening, Trump said: “If they [migrants] want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back ... I told them, consider it a rifle.”
Trump rowed back on the comments on Saturday after former US generals, including a former chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rebuked the idea and questioned its legality. The president changed course, saying: “They [soldiers] won’t have to fire. What I don’t want, I don’t want these people throwing rocks.”
He added: “What they [migrants] did to the Mexican military is a disgrace. They hit them with rocks ... they do that with us they are going to be arrested.”
Earlier on Saturday the Nigerian Army, which has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, used Trump’s remarks to justify its fatal shootings of rock-throwing protesters last week. The army’s official Twitter account posted a video of Trump’s remarks, saying: “Please watch and make your deductions.”
Trump also defended his plans to sign an order this week to end what he called the “abuse” of the US asylum system, including the potential construction of “massive tent cities”. He insisted that migrants seeking asylum status would be made to wait at the border while their requests were processed.
“Everything we’re doing is totally legal,” he said. “But we have one of the few systems where instead of telling people you can’t come in, we take them in and we have to bring them to a court. It is the most ridiculous system in the world.”
The US military confirmed on Saturday that more than 7,000 soldiers would be pre-positioned in states bordering Mexico by the end of the weekend. It is thought to be the largest peacetime deployment of active-duty troops to the border in nearly a century. Opponents suggested it was a political stunt, coming just days before critical midterm elections.
Asked if he was creating violence, Trump told a reporter: “You’re creating violence by your question. The fake news is creating violence.”
Former president Barack Obama warned on Saturday against rhetoric he said was designed to sow fear. “In the closing weeks of this election we have seen repeated attempts to divide us with rhetoric designed to make us angry and make us fearful,” he told an audience in Miami at rally supporting Democratic Party candidates. “You can be a check on that kind of behaviour.”
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited