Former President Lyndon Johnson once said of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his outright authoritarianism, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” That maxim applies to Michael Cohen, and why Trump was probably wrong to not make whatever deal Cohen was very clearly trying to negotiate with him through the media before the president’s former fixer started singing like a songbird and creating headlines like this one throughout the media landscape—also known as the only reality that President Trump truly understands.
Now, I get the urge to roll your eyes at this and go “meh, unimportant clickbait,” but Cohen has credibility on this stuff, since he accused the president of a committing crime under penalty of perjury. Everything that’s less serious than that charge is plausible, and someone who we can confirm did talk to Trump on a regular basis is alleging gross and revealing behavior that is entirely believable and supported by other people who we can confirm regularly spoke to the president in the past.
Per Vanity Fair:
Certainly, Cohen is aggrieved, and his credibility has been questioned by the president, his lawyers, and others. His allegations could inflame the very divisions that he’s said he wants to diffuse. Through the president’s public attacks against him, he stayed silent, as his lawyers advised, and he’s taken a risk in sharing these recollections on the record. When I asked him why he was coming forward now with such uncomfortable claims, Cohen was clear: he knew that the president’s private comments were worse than his public rhetoric, and he wanted to offer potential voters what he believed was evidence of Trump’s character in advance of the midterm elections.
During our conversation, Cohen recalled a discussion at Trump Tower, following the then-candidate’s return from a campaign rally during the 2016 election cycle. Cohen had watched the rally on TV and noticed that the crowd was largely caucasian. He offered this observation to his boss. “I told Trump that the rally looked vanilla on television. Trump responded, ‘That’s because black people are too stupid to vote for me.’” (The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
Welcome to America, where a man with little credibility can tell a credible tale about the blatantly open racism of the president and it’s really not that shocking or unbelievable.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.