Michael Cohen: Collaboration and Corruption

By Olivia Moore

Michael Cohen is a New York native, born in 1996. His father escaped Nazi persecution before emigrating to the United States. Cohen went on to receive his law degree from one of the lowest-ranked law schools in the nation, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. At the onset of his career, he worked as a private injury lawyer, however, he grew an interest in the business world after he made a name for himself in real estate and a business that specialized in the New York City taxicab trade. Cohen argued that he was not responsible for the day-to-day oversight of this business, however in 2017 he and his wife were sued by the New York State Department of Taxation for around $40,000 in back taxes. Cohen has also invested in a casino cruise ship business, multiple medical clinics, and billing companies. He has also been involved with a family-run club, which was accused of being a base of operation for several Russian-American crime mobs. Cohen began working for Trump in the 2000s, after he assisted Trump in a dispute with a condominium board at a Trump property near the United Nations. His efforts impressed Trump, and he was offered a position within the Trump organization and eventually became Executive Vice President earning himself a reputation for being loyal and a shark. Cohen also held a position on the board of the Eric Trump Foundation and was co-president of the company that managed Trump’s Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos. Over time, Cohen became one of Trump’s advisors and was willing to do anything Trump asked. Some of his most notable work for Trump was the payment of $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels, as well as possible involvement with an attempt to cover up reported conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

When Trump entered the 2016 race, Cohen played a major role, making appearances in the media to help persuade voters to support Trump, and after Trump’s election, he was named the Republican National Committee’s Deputy National Finance Chair and was responsible for much of the party’s fundraising. By this time, he had left his position at the Trump Organization but continued to be Trump’s personal lawyer for several months.

Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI in April of 2018. Investigators took hold of tax and bank statements, phone records, and emails in regards to Cohen’s work with the president and other clients. Cohen sat down for his first interview since the FBI raid with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Cohen told ABC, “If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit.” Cohen did not discuss the specifics of the investigation. Cohen stated that he believed there was no real evidence that would suggest improper dealing with Russian agents on his part, but made some comments about his former employer, including his willingness to accept Putin’s denials of tampering with the 2016 election. In August of 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to bank fraud and tax evasion, also avowing that he illegally made campaign contributions under the direction of Trump.