Donald Trump met with evangelical leaders at Trump Tower shortly after his election and, after they departed, allegedly told his ‘fixer’ Michael Cohen: ‘Can you believe people believe that bulls***?’
Cohen’s new book, Disloyal, out on Tuesday, described the encounter.
Evangelical voters were seen as key to Trump’s victory, marshaled to a large extent by Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, a famously devout evangelical.
About one in four American adults belong to an evangelical denomination, according to research by the Brookings Institute.
Trump was keen to court them, and yet, according to Cohen, was deeply disparaging behind their backs.
Donald Trump is pictured with faith leaders inside the White House in February
In the weeks he spent as president-elect, Trump met a series of people at Trump Tower
Michael Flynn (left), Michael Cohen (center) and Rick Perry at Trump Tower in December 2016
Among the people Trump met were evangelicals, who he allegedly mocked once they left
After a prayer meeting, when evangelical leaders laid their hands on him, Trump allegedly said: ‘Can you believe that bulls***? Can you believe people believe that bulls***?’
Cohen writes, in excerpts of his book obtained by the Washington Post: ‘The cosmic joke was that Trump convinced a vast swathe of working-class white folks in the Midwest that he cared about their well-being.
‘The truth was that he couldn’t care less.’
Trump’s three marriages, alleged infidelities, previous pro-choice comments and dubious business deals were all glossed over during the election – to startling effect.
The 2016 National Election Pool Exit Survey had Trump leading Hillary Clinton among white evangelicals by 79 per cent to 16 per cent, Brookings reports.
Pence, the most influential evangelical in U.S. politics, has not commented on Cohen’s claims.
Trump speaks at evangelical Liberty University in January 2016 while on the campaign trail
Evangelicals are pictured praying for Donald Trump in January in Miami
American evangelical Christian preacher Andrew Brunson prays for Trump in October 2018
But the White House has been quick to condemn the series of allegations in Cohen’s book.
Cohen, who worked for Trump from 2006-18, paints Trump as racist, sexist and enamored of Vladimir Putin.
Among Cohen’s claims was that Trump said the only reason why Barack Obama had been admitted to Columbia University for undergrad and then Harvard Law School was because of ‘f**king affirmative action.’
Cohen also wrote that Trump’s ‘low opinion of all black folks’ included him allegedly saying: ‘Tell me one country run by a black person that isn’t a s**thole. They are all complete f**king toilets.’
Cohen’s memoir is out on Tuesday
He claims that Trump mocked Nelson Mandela after his death in 2013, writing that Trump didn’t think Mandela ‘was a real leader — not the kind he respected’.
Cohen claimed that Trump said ‘Mandela f**ked the whole country up. Now it’s a s**thole. F**k Mandela. He was no leader.’
Cohen also detailed his payments made to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels.
The White House hit back at Cohen – who is currently serving out a three-year federal prison sentence for tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations – in a statement on Saturday.
In a statement to the Washington Post, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: ‘Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress.
‘He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.’
Another White House spokesperson told AP that the memoir amounted to ‘fan fiction’.
Cohen ‘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.
‘It’s unfortunate that the media is exploiting this sad and desperate man to attack President Trump.’