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Trump allegedly said Nelson Mandela was "no leader." South Africa says he's not one to judge.

Cohen tell-all book takes aim at Trump
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South Africa's ruling party condemned President Trump for his alleged insults of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary who won the Nobel Peace Prize and served as the country's first Black president. Mr. Trump said Mandela was "no leader" and turned his country into a "s***hole," according to a new book from the president's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

"All freedom-loving people of the world are appalled by these insults, which come from a person who himself is not a model of competent leadership," South Africa's African National Congress said in a statement. 

The party called Mr. Trump the most "divisive, misogynistic and disrespectful person ever to occupy the office of the president" and said Mandela, by contrast, "reached out to the world and sought to bring peace and a just society."

The Nelson Mandela Foundation also denounced Mr. Trump's alleged comments, saying in a statement that "leaders who conduct themselves in the way Mr. Trump does are in a position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work of Madiba," using Mandela's clan name.

The foundation also ran a quote from Mandela: "A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed."

"We would recommend these words to Mr. Trump for consideration," it added.

Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years after leading efforts to dismantle South Africa's apartheid system of institutionalized segregation. He was released in 1990, received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and served as president from 1994 to 1999. Mandela died in 2013 and remains a global icon.

But Mr. Trump wasn't impressed by any of that, according to Cohen's book, "Disloyal: A Memoir." Cohen says this was part of Mr. Trump's larger pattern of racism.

"[A]s 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," Cohen writes.

He quotes Mr. Trump saying, during a rant about President Barack Obama, "Tell me one country run by a black person that isn't a s***hole. They are all complete f***ing toilets."

Cohen adds that after Mandela's death, Mr. Trump said South Africa "was once a beautiful country twenty, thirty years ago," when it was still under apartheid rule.

"Mandela f***ed the whole country up. Now it's a s***hole," he quotes Mr. Trump saying. "F*** Mandela. He was no leader."

Years later, as president, Mr. Trump notoriously referred to African nations as "s***hole countries." And he has continued to unleash attacks on Black leaders in politics and popular culture.

The White House has sweepingly dismissed Cohen's book, calling it "fan fiction."

The U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, issued a statement saying Mr. Trump "has only ever spoken positively about the country" and "remains committed to working together with South Africa to realize the promise of a more peaceful, more productive, more prosperous 21st century Africa." The statement made no direct reference to the president's reported remarks. 

Cohen served as Mr. Trump's personal lawyer until 2018, when he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, fraud and lying to Congress. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison, but transferred to house arrest earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cohen writes in his book that Mr. Trump is "guilty of the same crimes" that landed him in prison. Cohen has said that he lied and paid hush money to former porn star Stormy Daniel, with Mr. Trump's knowledge, in an effort to cover for him.

Cohen's book, "Disloyal: A Memoir," is distributed by Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS.

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