The long-alleged n-word tape still hasn’t surfaced. But yet another person who has been close to President Trump is accusing him of using racist language.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen recalls four explicit instances of Trump saying racist things about black people:
- “Black people are too stupid to vote for me.”
- “Name one country run by a black person that’s not a shithole. Name one city."
- While traveling through a Chicago neighborhood: “Only the blacks could live like this.”
- On a black finalist on “The Apprentice”: “There’s no way I can let this black f-g win.”
All the usual caveats apply here. Cohen is now a felon who has turned on Trump, both legally and politically. He has implicated Trump in a campaign finance violation and has rejoined the Democratic Party. He’s got an ax to grind and no actual proof of this; it’s all hearsay. And an election that is largely a referendum on Trump is happening in four days.
But it’s worth emphasizing how increasingly believable this is, both in the context of Trump’s public actions and what others have said about him. There is now a fast-growing list of racially charged things Trump has said and done — the most recent being a Willie Horton-style ad this week — and there’s also a growing list people close to him arguing and believing he has said racist things.
That’s not just coming from those now opposed to Trump, such as Cohen and Omarosa Manigault Newman, who accused Trump of using the n-word after falling out with Trump and publishing a book this summer. So have two additional black “Apprentice” contestants — Randall Pinket and now Kwame Jackson, who confirmed to Vanity Fair that he had heard about Trump making such a comment. And Manigault Newman, you may recall, also shared a secret recording in which other black Trump staffers seemed to grant that Trump probably had, in fact, used the n-word.
Here’s the transcript of that tape:
KATRINA PIERSON: I’m trying to find out at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it.
LYNNE PATTON: I said, "Well, sir, can you think of any time that this might have happened, and he said, “No”.
MANIGAULT NEWMAN: Well, that’s not true. So —
PATTON: He goes, “How do you think I should handle it?” and I told him exactly what you just said, Omarosa — which is, well, it depends on what scenario you are talking about. And he said, “Well, why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed.”
PIERSON: He said it. No, he said it. He’s embarrassed.
Pierson has since said that she was just agreeing with Manigault Newsman’s premise to placate her. But other denials offered by her and Patton have fallen apart. And multiple White House spokesmen declined to explicitly rule out the existence of the n-word tape, perhaps because they worried it might one day surface and render them liars.
The comments from Cohen track with all of that and basically everything we know about Trump. Pierson and Patton seemed to believe Trump said it, but that perhaps the context wasn’t as damning as it could be. Cohen isn’t accusing Trump of using the n-word but of ascribing racist stereotypes to African Americans.
The comments themselves also sound like things Trump has said and reportedly said.
As to the first one, he has called other people who didn’t vote for him — Iowans, specifically — “stupid” for not doing so.
On No. 2, there was the time he referred to largely black nations as “shithole countries” in the White House. He even did that in front of a Democratic senator.
The third one sounds a lot like when Trump repeatedly as a 2016 candidate implored black voters to support him by citing their plight and saying, “What do you have to lose?” Trump has repeatedly alluded to the poor status of African Americans as a reason they should support him.
It’s possible that Cohen, if he did indeed make all this up, knows Trump well enough that he made the quotes sound believable based upon things Trump already said. It’s also possible Manigault Newman was making things up for publicity. It’s also possible Pierson didn’t believe the tape existed and that White House spokesmen aren’t really concerned that it exists.
But all of that, combined with Trump’s increasingly unapologetic use of racially divisive rhetoric, makes it difficult to dismiss Cohen’s allegation out of hand.