Michael Dean Cohen|
August 25, 1966
Long Island, New York
American University (BA)|
Thomas M. Cooley Law School (JD)
|Occupation||Personal lawyer for Donald Trump|
Democratic (Before 2002; 2004–2017)|
Republican (2002–2004; 2017–present)
Michael Dean Cohen (born August 25, 1966) is an American attorney who works as a lawyer and spokesperson for U.S. President Donald Trump. Prior to this appointment, he was Executive Vice-President of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump. Cohen also previously served as co-president of Trump Entertainment and a member of the board of the Eric Trump Foundation, a children's health charity. He joined the Trump Organization after having been a partner at Phillips Nizer. As of April 2018[update], he is under investigation by federal prosecutors into multiple matters, including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, relating in part to payments made to Stormy Daniels.
Early life and education
Cohen grew up on Long Island. His mother was a nurse, and his father, who survived the Holocaust, was a surgeon. He received his B.A. from American University in 1988 and his J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1991, a then-autonomous institution that later became the law school of Western Michigan University. He is Jewish.
Legal career and business ventures
Cohen began practicing personal injury law in New York in 1992. As of 2003, Cohen was an attorney in private practice and CEO of MLA Cruises, Inc., and of the Atlantic Casino. In 2003, when Cohen was a candidate for New York City Council, he provided a biography to the New York City Campaign Finance Board for inclusion in its voters guide, listing him as co-owner of Taxi Funding Corp. and a fleet of New York City taxicabs numbering over 200. At the time, Cohen was business partners in the taxi business with Simon Garber.
As of 2017, Cohen was estimated to own at least 34 taxi medallions through 17 limited liability companies (LLCs). Until April 2017, "taxi king" Evgeny Freidman managed the medallions still held by Cohen; this arrangement ended after the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission decided not to renew Freidman's licenses. Between April and June 2017, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance filed seven tax warrants against Cohen and his wife for $37,434 in unpaid taxi taxes due to the MTA.
While Cohen was a major player in the New York City taxi business for two decades in recent years he shifted his focus to Chicago, where his erstwhile taxi business partner, Simon Garber, is the biggest taxi operator in the city. There Cohen hooked up with another New York-based Ukrainian immigrant family, the Semyon and Yasya Shtayner. They’ve been in the taxi business for years and manage a fleet of more than 360 cabs in Chicago. 22 of those medallions/cabs are owned by Cohen and managed by the Shtayners’ Chicago Medallion Management Corporation.
The Shtayners operation and fleet is separate from those owned by Cohen’s erstwhile business partner Simon Garber, the biggest taxi operator in Chicago. But The Chicago Sun-Times notes that a number of cabs and medallions owned or managed by the Schtayners are financed by Tri-Global Financial Services, which is run by Garber.
While at the company, Cohen became a close confidant to Donald Trump, maintaining an office near Trump at Trump Tower. Cohen aided Trump in his struggle with the condominium board at the Trump World Tower, which led to Trump successfully obtaining control of the board.
Cohen has been involved in real estate ventures in Manhattan; from 2011 to 2014, Cohen purchased and sold four Manhattan apartment buildings in Manhattan for $32 million, and in 2015, Cohen purchased an Upper East Side apartment building for $58 million.
Cohen volunteered for the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, was an intern for Congressman Joe Moakley, and voted for Barack Obama in 2008, though he later became disappointed with Obama.
In 2003 he unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for the New York City Council from the Fourth Council District (a Manhattan district). Cohen received 4,205 votes, and was defeated by Democratic candidate Eva S. Moskowitz, who received 13,745 votes. In 2010, Cohen briefly campaigned for a seat in the New York State Senate. He was a registered Democrat until he officially registered as a Republican on March 9, 2017.
While an executive at the Trump Organization, Cohen was known as Trump's "pit bull." In late 2011, when Trump was publicly speculating about running for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, Cohen co-founded the website "Should Trump Run?" to draft Trump into entering the race.
In an interview with ABC News in 2011, Cohen stated: "If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit. If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished."
In 2015, in response to an inquiry by reporter Tim Mak of the Daily Beast concerning rape allegations by Ivana Trump about her then-husband Donald Trump (later recanted), Cohen said: "I'm warning you, tread very f---ing lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f---ing disgusting."
In late January 2017, Cohen met with Ukrainian opposition politician Andrey Artemenko and Felix Sater at the Loews Regency in Manhattan to discuss a plan to lift sanctions against Russia. The proposed plan would require that Russian forces withdraw from eastern Ukraine and that Ukraine hold a referendum on whether Crimea should be "leased" to Russia for 50 or 100 years. Cohen was given a written proposal in a sealed envelope that he delivered to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in early February.
On April 3, 2017, Cohen was appointed a National Deputy Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee. In April 2017, Cohen also formed an alliance with Squire Patton Boggs for legal and lobbying counsel on behalf of Trump.
In May 2017, amidst expanding inquiries into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, two congressional panels asked Cohen to provide information about any communications he had with people connected to the Russian government. He was also a subject of the Mueller investigation in 2018. 
Payment to Stormy Daniels
A January 2018 Wall Street Journal article reported that in October 2016, Cohen used Essential Consultants LLC to pay adult film actress Stormy Daniels regarding an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen told The New York Times in February 2018 that the $130,000 was paid to Daniels from his own pocket, that it was not a campaign contribution, and that he was not reimbursed for making it by either the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign. The Washington Post later noted that, by stating that he used his own money to "facilitate" the payment, Cohen was not ruling out the possibility that Trump, as an individual, reimbursed Cohen for the payment. NBC News reported that Cohen initiated a private arbitration case against Daniels on February 27, 2018, and obtained a restraining order that states Daniels will face penalties if she discusses in public her alleged relationship with Trump.
On March 5, the Wall Street Journal cited anonymous sources recounting Cohen as saying he missed two deadlines to pay Daniels because Cohen "couldn't reach Mr. Trump in the hectic final days of the presidential campaign", and that after Trump's election, Cohen had complained that he had not been reimbursed for the payment. Cohen described this report as "fake news".
On March 9, NBC News reported that Cohen had used his Trump Organization email to negotiate with Daniels regarding her nondisclosure agreement, and that Cohen had used the same Trump Organization email to arrange for a transfer for funds which would eventually lead to Daniels' payment. In response, Cohen acknowledged that he had transferred funds from his home equity line of credit to the LLC and from the LLC to Daniels' attorney.
On March 26, David Schwarz, a lawyer for Cohen, told ABC's Good Morning America that Daniels was lying in the 60 Minutes interview. A cease-and-desist letter was sent by Cohen's lawyer claiming Daniels' statements constituted "libel per se and intentional infliction of emotional distress" to Cohen.
As of April 2018, Cohen was under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of campaign finance law, according to media reports.
On April 9, 2018, the FBI raided Cohen's office at the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, his home, and his hotel room in the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City, pursuant to a federal search warrant. The warrant was obtained
by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, whose public corruption unit is conducting an investigation. Seeking the warrant required high-level approval from the Department of Justice. The Interim U.S. Attorney, Geoffrey Berman, was recused. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray – both of whom are Trump appointees – had supervisory roles. The FBI obtained the warrant after a referral from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, although underlying reasons for the raid were not revealed.
Agents seized emails, tax records, business records, and other matter related to several topics, including payments made by Cohen to Stormy Daniels, and records related to Trump's Access Hollywood controversy. The search included the seizure of materials normally protected by attorney-client privilege, which is subject to a crime-fraud exception if a crime is suspected. However, some legal scholars opined that Trump's denial that he had knowledge of the Daniels payment, combined with denials by Cohen and his lawyer David Schwartz, meant both sides had effectively said the matter did not involve attorney-client communications. The search warrant itself has been sealed, making it unavailable to the public. The FBI also sought documents pertaining to Cohen's ownership of taxi medallions. Cohen's taxi fleet is operated by Gene Freidman, who is facing legal trouble for alleged tax evasion.
A 2017 New York Times article reported that Cohen is known for having "a penchant for luxury"; he was married at the Pierre, drove a Porsche while attending college, and at one point, owned a Bentley.
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- Media related to Michael D. Cohen at Wikimedia Commons