Cohen calls Trump ‘cult leader’ ahead of book release

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Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer to President Trump, called the president a “cult leader” in an interview with NBC ahead of the release of a salacious book about his time working for the president, saying that those in the Trump “cult” are forced to defend his actions no matter how reprehensible they might be.

The White House has slammed Cohen over the book, and Trump previously criticized his former lawyer as a “fraudster” when he testified against him to Congress. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a Saturday statement reported by the Washington Post that Cohen “is a disgraced felon, and disbarred lawyer, who has lied to Congress” and that Cohen “has lost all credibility” and is trying “to profit off lies” with the book.

“I described Mr. Trump as a cult leader and I was in this cult. And while I was in the cult I was really refusing to acknowledge that the actions I was performing for my boss were really morally wrong,” Cohen told NBC while discussing his book, “Disloyal: a Memoir.”

Michael Cohen arrives at his Manhattan apartment, Thursday, May 21, 2020. Cohen had been serving a federal prison sentence at FCI Otisville in New York after pleading guilty to numerous charges, including campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress. He was returned to prison -- then ordered released -- in July over a controversy about whether his tell-all about Trump violated the terms of his home confinement. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Michael Cohen arrives at his Manhattan apartment, Thursday, May 21, 2020. Cohen had been serving a federal prison sentence at FCI Otisville in New York after pleading guilty to numerous charges, including campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress. He was returned to prison — then ordered released — in July over a controversy about whether his tell-all about Trump violated the terms of his home confinement. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

SOURCES DISPUTE CLAIM TRUMP NIXED VISIT TO MILITARY CEMETERY OVER DISDAIN FOR SLAIN VETERANS, BUT BACK UP PARTS OF ATLANTIC REPORT

Cohen, in the NBC interview, specifically discussed reporting by The Atlantic last week that Trump called American service members killed in World War I “losers” and “suckers” and canceled a 2018 trip to a French cemetery for American service members killed during that war over disdain for the slain service members.

Sources who were in France with the president told Fox News the trip to the cemetery was not canceled for that reason or because Trump was concerned with the weather’s effect on his hair, as The Atlantic reported. Sources said the call was made by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly and one of his aides because Marine One’s crew was worried about the safety of flying the president in poor weather and that driving to the cemetery was thought to present undue risks should Trump need to quickly leave France.

But Fox News confirmed separate elements of the story, including that Trump has disparaged service members in the Vietnam War and wounded service members. Trump has publicly scorned late Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“I mean, who could possibly accept this?” Cohen said about The Atlantic’s story, according to NBC. “But when you’re in the Trump cult, you have no choice but to accept it.”

He also said, according to NBC: “So one of the purposes of writing the book is really from one former cult member to the current ones… I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Open your eyes as I have. And I want you to appreciate that Donald Trump cares for no one or anything other than himself.”

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Cohen’s book is one of many released in recent years that have been highly critical of the president, including a book from former National Security Advisor John Bolton, two from Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, a memoir by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and another by Trump’s niece Mary Trump. The president has slammed such books and their authors.

“About the only way a person is able to write a book on me is if they agree that it will contain as much bad ‘stuff’ as possible, much of which is lies,” he tweeted last month. “It’s like getting a job with CNN or MSDNC and saying that ‘President Trump is great.’ You have ZERO chance. FAKE NEWS!”

Trump added: “Even whether it’s dumb warmongers like John Bolton, social pretenders like Bob Woodward, who never has anything good to say, or an unstable niece, who was now rightfully shunned, scorned and mocked her entire life, and never even liked by her own very kind & caring grandfather!”

Fox News’ John Roberts and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report. 

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