Former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen claimed President Donald Trump idolized Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ability to control the country in his newly-released tell-all book.
“Locking up your political enemies, criminalizing dissent, terrifying or bankrupting the free press through libel lawsuits – Trump’s all-encompassing vision wasn’t evident to me before he began to run for president,” Cohen wrote in Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President. “I honestly believe the most extreme ideas about power and its uses only really took shape as he began to seriously contemplate the implications of taking power and how he could leverage it to the absolute maximum level possible.”
Despite this alleged infatuation with Putin, a foreign leader Trump has kept unusually friendly relations with, Cohen denied that the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia – a claim largely supported by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation found evidence that Russia had in fact interfered in the election, but could not prove that the interference occurred in coordination with the Trump campaign.
“What appeared to be collusion was really a confluence of shared interests in harming Hillary Clinton in any way possible, up to and including interfering in the American election – a subject that caused Trump precisely zero unease,” Cohen wrote, according to brief excerpts published ahead of time.
Trump previously came under fire for exploring a potential real estate deal in Moscow along the same time that Russia was being accused of interfering to his benefit.
Mueller’s team wrote in a December 2018 court filing that “the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company (the Trump Organization) could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues.”
Cohen painted a slightly different picture in his book, writing that Trump planned to lose in 2016 but wanted to use the campaign as an opportunity to strengthen his business relationships with Russia and Putin.
“By ingratiating himself with Putin, and hinting at changes in American sanctions policy against the country under a Trump Presidency,” Cohen wrote, “the Boss was trying to nudge the Moscow Trump Tower project along.”
One of the charges Cohen pleaded guilty to in connection to Mueller’s investigation was lying to Congress regarding the duration of negotiations about the Moscow real estate development. He is currently serving his three-year sentence in home confinement.