'Donald Trump once said black Americans were too stupid to vote for him, the US president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has claimed in explosive testimony to Congress.
Mr Cohen alleged that Mr Trump once travelled through a struggling Chicago neighbourhood and commented that “only black people could live that way”.
He also called his former boss a “racist”, a “conman” and a “cheat” in written evidence submitted to a congressional committee ahead of his hearing which was obtained by Politico.
Mr Cohen, an attorney and ‘fixer’ to Mr Trump for a decade before turning on him after becoming the target of a criminal investigation, makes a string of other damning claims in the testimony.
The allegations sent the White House into defence mode and threatened to overshadow Mr Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at a summit in Vietnam.
Mr Trump tweeted from Hanoi:
Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019
Mr Cohen is facing years in prison after pleading guilty to breaking campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to two women who claimed affairs with Mr Trump before the 2016 election. He has also admitted lying to Congress in the past, another crime.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday: “Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements.
“Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
Read more: Donald Trump is 'a racist, conman and cheat' former lawyer Michael Cohen claims to Congress - live updates