Michael Cohen’s Disloyal starts with the line, “The President of the United States wanted me dead.” The sentiment is in all likelihood true, but also a nod to Cohen’s thesis, if his tell-all memoir has one: that Donald Trump is nothing more than a two-bit mobster with a bad combover. And Cohen himself? He’s a sucker who fell for it because he wanted his own small amount of second-hand influence (“The real truth about why I wanted Trump to be president was because I wanted the power that he would bring to me,” he writes at one point). Disloyal is littered with mea culpas, a hairshirt masquerading as a book.
But it is, given Cohen’s role as Trump’s personal fixer for years, also filled with terrible stories about terrible people doing terrible things. As an act of service journalism, I read Disloyal so that you don’t have to, and present to you some of its most awful stories. Will these stories, as Cohen seemingly believes, convince Trump supporters not to vote for him? Probably not, but they’ll ruin your lunch hour! They definitely ruined mine!
“Don has the worst fucking judgment of anyone I have ever met,” Trump would often tell me, adding that he’d been reluctant to bestow his first name on his first-born son. He didn’t want to share his name with a “loser,” if that was what his son turned out to be.
Trump offered a lowball salary. I countered and we met in the middle, less money than I was making at my firm. But I was already wealthy, with my taxi medallions and real-estate holdings worth millions, so it wasn’t the pay that most interested me. The attraction was the action: the game, the deals, the thrill of the chase.
“Don’t tell anyone how much I’m paying you,” Trump said. “I don’t pay anyone that much.”
“Okay,” I said. “But what about my invoice?”
“Invoice?” he said. “You want to get fired on your first day?”
Although I never heard Trump use the N-word in my time spent with him, there were many times that he made racist comments. What he said in private was far worse than what he uttered in public. As an example: in September 2008, we were in Chicago for the “topping off” ceremony for The Trump International Hotel and Tower. Bill Rancic, who had won the first season of The Apprentice four years before, had been put in charge of the project. Trump reminisced to me about Rancic, who had been in a head-to-head with another contestant, Kwame Jackson. Kwame was not only a nice guy, but also a brilliant Harvard MBA graduate. Trump was explaining his back-and-forth about not picking Kwame.
“There was no way I was going to let this black fag win,” he said to me.
And the time Trump spoke glowingly of apartheid and said Nelson Mandela “fucked the whole country up”:
But, as a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all black folks, from music to culture and politics. Africa was a hell-hole, he believed, and Nelson Mandela, to use but one example, was an object of contempt for Trump.
“Tell me one country run by a black person that isn’t a shithole,” he would challenge me as he cursed out the stupidity of Obama. “They are all complete fucking toilets.”
When Mandela passed away, years later, Trump told me he didn’t think the South African founding father and national hero was a real leader—not the kind he respected.
“South Africa was once a beautiful country twenty, thirty years ago,” Trump said, endorsing Apartheid-era white rule. “Mandela fucked the whole country up. Now it’s a shithole. Fuck Mandela. He was no leader.”
I thought I’d seen the worst of Trump then, but when Obama won the Nobel Prize, Trump went ballistic, as if the universe were playing some kind of trick on him to drive him out of his mind. It was almost like he was hearing voices, the way he ranted and raved about the idiotic Obama and how he was beloved by so many Americans. Trump mocked the way Obama talked, walked, even appeared, as if acting presidential was just that: an act. The shtick you see him pull at his rallies, when he mocks the idea of being “presidential” and says how easy it is to pretend to be a serious leader, walking like a robot and marching around like a fool and a phony, was first performed for yours truly in Trump’s office while I sat quietly listening to him go on and on and on about Obama and caricature his mannerisms. We even hired a Faux-Bama, or fake Obama, to record a video where Trump ritualistically belittled the first black president and then fired him, a kind of fantasy fulfillment that it was hard to imagine any adult would spend serious money living out—until he did the functional equivalent in the real world.
I called his plane Hair Force One, for good reason. Trump doesn’t have a simple combover, as it would appear. The operation was much more involved than a simple throw-over of what was left of his hair: the three-step procedure required a flop up of the hair from the back of his head, followed by the flip of the resulting overhang on his face back on his pate, and then the flap of his combover on the right side, providing three layers of thinly disguised balding-male insecurity. The concoction was held in place by a fog of TREsemme TRES Two, not a high-end salon product. Flip, flop, flap, and there was the most famous combover in the world.
The real reason for the extravagant and obvious overcompensation for his baldness was vanity, and the desire to appear younger and more vigorous than he was. But there was another unknown reason: he was hiding unsightly scars on his scalp from a failed hair-implant operation in the 1980s. That was the disfiguring operation that resulted in his furious “emotional rape” of his first wife Ivana, as she documented in a lawsuit in the early ’90s; like Samson, Trump believed his virility and image were harmed if he was seen to be losing his hair, or, even worse, injuring himself in an attempt to disguise male-pattern balding.
This was a really hot and sticky summer day, and I was standing with Trump outside the pool area, discussing some pressing business matter, like the size of the breasts of a woman sunbathing on a lounge chair, when he whistled and pointed in the direction of the tennis courts.
“Look at that piece of ass,” Trump said. “I would love some of that.”
I looked over and stopped cold. My fifteen-year-old daughter had just finished a tennis lesson with the club pro and she was walking off the court. She was wearing a white tennis skirt and a tank top, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail.
I turned to Trump, incredulous. “That’s my daughter,” I said.
Trump turned to me, now surprised. “That’s your daughter? When did she get so hot?”
I said nothing, thinking to myself, or I should say allowing myself to think: What a fucking creep.
When he wanted a particular businessman to do his biddings, he would often have me send Ivanka to take the meeting with a married man who the Boss figured would be susceptible to her charms.
“They can’t think straight when they’re around her,” Trump told me of deploying his elder daughter to deploy her looks with lustful men twice her age. “They can’t keep their eyes off her.”
But the beauty myth cut both ways in the Trump family, I knew. His daughter Tiffany was referred to as the “red-haired stepchild” by the other Trump kids, just one of a million ways she was treated differently than her siblings. The casual cruelty included Ivanka, who jealously guarded her position as Trump’s favorite and surrogate, even at the expense of her vulnerable younger sister, as I saw firsthand. After graduating from college, Tiffany asked her father to call Anna Wintour, the editorial director of Condé Nast, to arrange for her to get an internship with Vogue magazine. I was in Trump’s office with Ivanka one day as he mused over the idea of supporting Tiffany pursuing a career in fashion.
“I don’t think Tiffany has the look,” Trump said to Ivanka and me. “She just doesn’t have what you have, honey.”
“I agree, Daddy,” Ivanka said. That was how they referred to each other: Daddy and honey. “She just doesn’t have the look is the right way to say it, Daddy.”
The time the Trump kids wanted Daddy to end his presidential campaign, but only because it was bad for business:
Finally, in desperation, the three older kids came to my office on the 26th floor to ask me to talk to the Boss and convince him to drop out of the campaign before it totally destroyed the family’s reputation, name, and brand. Their social position and legacy were being flushed down the drain, they knew, but there was nothing they could do to stop their father. Ivanka led the charge.
“MC, you’ve got to get Dad to stop the campaign,” Ivanka said. “It’s killing the company.”
“If he keeps this up, you’ll be named the CEO of the Rump Organization,” Don Jr. said to me, only half joking. “We’re losing millions.”
“I don’t care,” Trump said, when I told him how concerned for the business his children were about all the cancellations. “Let them cancel the events. This is more important than all the events.”
I was stunned. Something was more important than money? Since when? Maybe he really was ready to make a commitment to running for president, regardless of the consequences?
“Plus, I will never get the Hispanic vote,” Trump said. “Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump. They’re not my people.”
After Palomarez and the two others departed, Trump shook his head.
“What a phony bullshit artist,” he said. “He and the whole Hispanic Chamber of Commerce thing is a fucking scam. Like Al Sharpton’s bullshit group. Who knows, who cares. No matter what, I’m not doing his fucking town hall. And did you hear in the middle when I asked him how the organization supports itself? Through donations and dues and advertising, he said. He was looking for me to become one of his suckers. Fuck him. I don’t regret what I said about Mexicans. What I said was fucking true.”
You’re welcome. Now I’m going to go shower and try to flay all of my skin off of my body in a desperate attempt to feel clean again.