Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, insisted that his boss was not actually racist or misogynist but only said those types of statements because he speaks without thinking.
CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Cohen, special counsel to the Trump campaign, what the president-elect would say to Muslims, Hispanics, LGBT people or anyone else who feels fearful that his hateful campaign rhetoric will be turned to action now that he's been elected.
"He's going to have to find a way, if he wants to unite this country, to make people feel that he's not the source of the problem," Cuomo said. "How does he do that?"
Cohen said Trump could solve that problem as he had within his company, and he complained that his boss had been unfairly targeted by his media enemies.
"He's been called every negative word in the American dictionary, and then in other dictionaries, as well," Cohen said. "They think he's a sexist, misogynist, racist, Islamophobe."
Cuomo asked whether Trump had not earned those sobriquets, and Cohen said those criticisms were unfair because Trump was inartfully expressing his deeply felt beliefs.
"I think that he made statements and, again, he's not a politician -- now he is, clearly -- but he speaks off-the-cuff, he speaks from his heart, and it was never coming, or supposed to come out, as an animus towards a group when he was talking about (how) we need to stop the Syrian refugee influx because we don't know who they are," Cohen said. "That's not being an Islamophobe, that's not anti-Muslim. It's pro-American."
Cuomo reminded him that Trump had also said the United States had a problem with Islam, and he started to throw him a bone by extending an offer of a "clean slate" before Cohen interrupted.
"By the way, there is a problem but it's not Islam," Cohen said. "Right? What it is, is radical Islamic terrorists."
Cuomo agreed those existed, and he explained terrorism's root causes as poverty, anger, disaffection and lack of education -- and Cohen agreed.
"That's correct, that's right," Cohen said. "What happens is, he's not scripted, he's not reading off a script. He doesn't have 20 different people figuring out what's the right way to say it for the largest group of people."