Donald Trump said black people were "too stupid to vote" for him during his 2016 election campaign, his former personal lawyer has reportedly claimed.
Speaking to Vanity Fair magazine, Michael Cohen, also recalled a conversation with the billionaire-turned-president several years earlier when he allegedly said: "Name one country run by a black person that’s not a s***hole ... Name one city."
Describing a separate conversation said to have taken place in the early 2000s, Mr Cohen told the magazine: “We were going from the airport to the hotel, and we drove through what looked like a rougher neighbourhood. Trump made a comment to me, saying that only the blacks could live like this.”
The president’s former attorney said he regretted not having cut ties with the administration sooner: “I should have been a bigger person, and I should have left.”
Mr Cohen's claims will add to intensifying criticism of the president over his treatment of minority groups, after he released an advert described as one of the most racially charged political adverts in recent years.
The clip, which Mr Trump tweeted with the message “it is outrageous what the Democrats are doing to our country. Vote Republican now”, focusses on an illegal immigrant twice previously deported who in 2014 shot and killed two California police officers.
The advert shows him laughing in court and vowing to kill more officers. Words across the screen read: “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.” It then shows migrants pulling on what appears to be a border fence.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called it the “dog-whistle of all dog-whistles”.
Mr Cohen’s comments came less than a week after he launched a thinly-veiled attack on the president following a shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead.
Mr Cohen, the son of a Holocaust survivor, tweeted: "Let’s follow the wisdom and thoughtful words of #RabbiJeffreyMyers ‘it can’t just be to say we need to stop hate. We need to do, we need to act to tone down rhetoric’."
In August, former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman branded Mr Trump a "racist" and claimed he repeatedly used the "N-word".
Describing a “growing realisation that Donald Trump was indeed a racist, a bigot and a misogynist" in her memoir, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, Ms Newman wrote: "My certainty about the N-word tape and his frequent uses of that word were the top of a high mountain of truly appalling things I’d experienced with him, during the last two years in particular.”
The White House declined to comment on Mr Cohen’s claims but press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders previously said Ms Newman’s book was “riddled with lies and false accusations”.
Mr Trump was forced to deny being a racist after reports emerged at the beginning of the year that he had referred to African countries as “s***holes”.
He told reporters at the time he was “the least racist person you have ever interviewed”.
He has faced intense criticism for similarly incendiary language including describing Mexicans as “rapists”.
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