STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Today the president faces more revelations about things he's said in private. Days ago, he was denouncing multiple news organizations for reporting disparaging remarks about the military. Now his own former lawyer alleges that Trump made disparaging remarks about just about everybody else. Michael Cohen began writing his book while in prison for assorted crimes. He is the president's longtime fixer, whose acts included paying hush money to the porn star Stormy Daniels. His book is called "Disloyal: A Memoir." It's descriptions of Trump's private words add to the many, many, many thousands of words the president has spoken in public. NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas obtained an early copy and is on the line. Good morning.
ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: Why does Cohen write that Trump has - and I'm quoting here - "a low opinion of all Black folks"?
TSIOULCAS: Well, Cohen makes a lot of allegations regarding things he says Trump said directly to him. Among them, Cohen says the president told him that Black and Latino voters are, quote, "too stupid," end quote, to vote for him. He also says Trump told him that any country run by Black leaders was ruined. And the language, Cohen says, he used mirrors an infamous remark the president was reported to have made a couple of years ago. And...
INSKEEP: Yeah. Particular vulgarity, yeah.
TSIOULCAS: Yeah. Exactly.
INSKEEP: Didn't he also talk about Nelson Mandela, the person who led South Africa out of apartheid?
TSIOULCAS: Right. And according to Cohen, Trump was nostalgic for apartheid-era South Africa and said that Nelson Mandela ruined the country. And again, Cohen says Trump used much saltier language than that. And in addition, there's another episode. And Cohen includes a photograph still that he says comes from a video that Trump says - he says that Trump made long before he ran for office. According to Cohen, Trump's team hired an Obama lookalike actor, which he refers to as Faux-Bama, that Trump berated and then pretended to fire, which, I think, is pretty remarkable.
INSKEEP: I'm just taking that in.
INSKEEP: So Trump wanted to role-play firing Barack Obama, hired someone to play the role of Barack Obama. And you're saying that Cohen backs up this astonishing story with what appears to be a still from a video, is that correct?
TSIOULCAS: That's exactly it, Steve. And I think you've got to - if this is true, it's a reality TV star cosplaying political power who then came to hold that very power himself.
INSKEEP: Cosplaying, a word that refers to role-playing, putting on costumes, that sort of thing. What does the president say about some of his most vital political supporters, white evangelicals?
TSIOULCAS: He describes Trump as essentially using the evangelical community with no real interest in their beliefs and values, Steve. According to Cohen, Trump was incredulous that evangelicals hold the beliefs that they do. And again, I'm - need to paraphrase and soften the language here.
INSKEEP: Vladimir Putin is also spoken well of by the president, apparently.
TSIOULCAS: Yes. Cohen claims that Trump really idolizes Putin's massive personal wealth and the enormous political power he wields. According to Cohen, that's Trump's vision of political perfection, something he aspires to. And that's even increased over the years. And Cohen also alleges that Trump has had close ties to Russian billionaires because he isn't otherwise able to fund his own businesses.
INSKEEP: I need to note, Michael Cohen has literally been convicted of lying. The White House responded to this book, has said Michael Cohen is lying. Do you find him believable as you read this?
TSIOULCAS: Well, I find it interesting. His tone alternates between taking accountability for his own behavior and trying to describe what he found so magnetic in Trump. He goes so far as to even describe the relationship in kind of even close to romantic terms, which I find just fascinating.
INSKEEP: Anastasia, thanks so much for reading.
TSIOULCAS: Thanks for having me.
INSKEEP: NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas.
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