Michael Cohen, president Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, has launched a blistering personal attack on his former boss in an interview that will be broadcast in TV ads this week, organised by the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century.
Cohen, who once told reporters that he would take a bullet for Mr Trump, will tell Americans that the president is a leader who “can’t be trusted” and people “shouldn’t believe a word he utters”.
The ads, set to air in the coming days, will attempt to derail Mr Trump’s re-election campaign during the Republican National Convention (RNC), which got underway on Monday night and continues on Tuesday with a speech from first lady, Melania Trump.
“For more than a decade, I was president Trump’s right-hand man, fixer and confidant. I was complicit in helping conceal the real Donald Trump,” Cohen says in a recorded interview, which has been posted on American Bridge’s social media channels and will be broadcast in TV ads later this week.
The disgraced lawyer, who was recently released from jail due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, says Mr Trump “doesn’t care” about working-class Americans and cast doubt on the president’s ability to fix the tanking US economy.
“In essence, I was part of creating an illusion,” Cohen says of his former boss. “Later this week, he’s going to stand up at the White House and blatantly lie to you.
“I’m here to tell you he can’t be trusted – and you shouldn’t believe a word he utters. So, when you watch the president this week, remember this: If he says something is huge, it’s probably small. If he says something will work, it probably won’t. And if he says he cares about you and your family, he certainly does not.”
Responding to the attack, the Trump campaign echoed those claims, saying that Cohen is a liar. “If you believe anything Michael Cohen says,” said Matt Wolking, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, “I have a basement in Delaware to sell you.”
Once one of the president’s closest confidants, Cohen appeared to be pushed aside when federal agents began investigating the Trump campaign. Cohen in February 2018 admitted opening a limited company to pay the adult performer Stormy Daniels $130,000 in alleged “hush”. Ms Daniels claims to have had sex with the president in 2006, accusations that he strongly denies.
Cohen in 2018 pleaded guilty to a number of crimes including tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations. He later admitted to lying to Congress’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
He was set to begin a three-year jail sentence at a New York prison in May 2019 but was released in July due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is under house arrest.
This year’s RNC got underway on Monday evening. President Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination, and thanked those who have been supporting his campaign for a second term. The GOP also heard from “everyday Americans”.
There was a speech from the McCloskeys, the St Louis couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters and a fiery address from Trump campaign aide, and girlfriend of Donald Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
In contrast to the Democratic National Convention last week – which attempted to create an atmosphere of hope – the Republican strategy appeared to largely be an attempt at instilling fear among the president’s base.
Ms Guilfoyle delivered her speech in a near shout, although she was speaking to an auditorium in Washington emptied by the coronavirus pandemic.
“They want to destroy this country, and everything that we have fought for and hold dear,” she said of Democrats. “They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think, and believe, so they can control how you live!”
Meanwhile, the McCloskeys – who accosted Black Lives Matter protesters armed with a rifle and a handgun – warned that “what you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you.”
Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, claimed that basic freedoms of thought, expression and religious affiliation would be trashed under a Biden administration.
Conservative activist Charlie Kirk, who led off the evening’s speeches, called the presidential election nothing less than a decision between “preserving America as we know it and eliminating everything that we love.”
On day two of the convention, Republicans will hear from Eric, Tiffany and Melania Trump, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senator Rand Paul. Nicholas Sandmann, who featured in a viral video last year in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital, is also scheduled to speak.