Cohen memoir casts him as 'star witness' against Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen’s tell-all memoir makes the case that President Donald Trump is “guilty of the same crimes” that landed his former fixer in federal prison, offering a blow-by-blow account of Trump’s alleged role in a hush money scandal that once overshadowed his presidency.

Of all the crises Cohen confronted working for Trump, none proved as vexing as the porn actress Stormy Daniels and her claims of an extramarital affair with Trump, Cohen writes in “Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”

Trump, despite his later protestations, green-lighted the $ 130,000 payment to silence Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, reasoning he would “have to pay” his wife a far greater sum if the affair ever became known, Cohen writes, adding the president later reimbursed him with “fake legal fees.”

“It never pays to settle these things, but many, many friends have advised me to pay,” Trump said, according to Cohen. “If it comes out, I’m not sure how it would play with my supporters. But I bet they’d think it’s cool that I slept with a porn star.”

The White House called Cohen’s memoir “fan fiction.”

“He readily admits to lying routinely but expects people to believe him now so that he can make money from book sales,” White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that the media is exploiting this sad and desperate man to attack President Trump.”

The Associated Press obtained an early copy of the book, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday.

18 PHOTOS

Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen

See Gallery

U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the ‘highest confidence’ in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump’s attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

(Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

HIDE CAPTION

SHOW CAPTION

of

SEE ALL

BACK TO SLIDE

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other crimes, including lying to Congress, calls himself the “star witness” of a hush-money conspiracy that still could culminate in charges for Trump after he leaves office. He described his new book as a “fundamental piece of evidence” of the president’s guilt.

Cohen’s allegations — his most detailed to date — are part of an unsparing and deeply personal put-down of Trump. Cohen assails Trump as an “organized crime don” and “master manipulator,” but allows that he saw much of himself in a man he once considered a father figure.

“I care for Donald Trump, even to this day,” Cohen writes, “and I had and still have a lot of affection for him.”

Cohen remains at a loss to explain his unswerving allegiance to a cutthroat businessman who abandoned him at the most vulnerable point in his life. He likens his fealty to Trump to a mental illness and said he thought of himself as acting like a drug user in need of an intervention.

“It seemed to (my family) that I wouldn’t listen to anyone, not even the people who loved me most, as I gradually gave up control of my mind to Trump,” Cohen writes.

“I confess I never really did understand why pleasing Trump meant so much to me,” Cohen adds. “To this day I don’t have the full answer.”

The memoir offers an introspective — and at times self-loathing — apology for the role Cohen played in Trump’s political ascent. He urged Trump for years to run for president but now laments that his election “led the nation and maybe even the world to the brink of disaster.”

“I thought Trump was a visionary with a no-nonsense attitude and the charisma to attract all kinds of voters,” he writes. But the real reason he wanted Trump in the White House, Cohen concedes, “was because I wanted the power that he would bring to me.”

Cohen expresses little to no remorse for his federal crimes, saying he was “railroaded” by the government and pleaded guilty after prosecutors threatened to indict his wife.

He writes that Trump’s three oldest children came to Cohen’s office after Trump’s campaign announcement in 2015, in which Trump referred to people coming to the U.S. from Mexico as rapists and murderers. Cohen says they asked him to convince their father to drop out of the race, arguing his rhetoric was “killing the company.”

Cohen says Trump was unconcerned with any harm to his businesses. “Plus, I will never get the Hispanic vote,” Trump said, according to Cohen. “Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump. They’re not my people.”

Cohen returns to Trump’s treatment of women throughout the book.

He describes the married Trump ogling contestants at his Miss Universe pageant and boasting he could “have all of them” if he wanted. He also claimed to have seen Trump corner and forcibly kiss women at his office.

In a far more personal episode, Cohen writes of Trump leering at Cohen’s then-15-year-old daughter at Trump’s New Jersey golf club in 2012. Cohen writes that when he told Trump that it was his daughter, Trump replied: “When did she get so hot?”

Cohen also sheds light on Trump’s admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he admired him most because he “had the balls to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company.” But he added that Trump’s campaign had been “far too chaotic and incompetent to actually conspire with the Russian government.”

Beyond his dealings with Trump, Cohen waxes nostalgic about experiences he says informed his fierce loyalty and attack-dog persona. The Long Island native, a Holocaust survivor’s son, writes of rubbing shoulders with mobsters at his uncle’s club, where he worked as a teen. After witnessing a poolside shooting, he says he felt a duty to keep quiet. A few days later, he writes, a tough-looking fellow handed him an envelope stuffed with $ 500 cash.

Cohen has led a publicity blitz around his memoir even as he serves his federal sentence in home confinement. A judge ruled this summer that authorities had retaliated against him, sending him back to prison in upstate New York after he was furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic, for publishing the book ahead of the November election.

Cohen was released to home confinement in July and the government lifted a ban on him speaking publicly.

“This story is all I have left for my wife, my children and the country I love so much,” Cohen writes.

___

Associated Press national writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

___

On Twitter, follow Jim Mustian at twitter.com/jimmustian and Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak

AOL