- Former President Donald Trump’s lawyer served three years in prison for tax evasion and lying about hush money payments.
- He admitted to paying off Stormy Daniels for her alleged affair with Trump.
- He released a tell-all memoir ‘Disloyal’ about his work as Trump’s lawyer.
- He testified in front of the grand jury in 2023 in the investigation into Trump regarding the Stormy Daniels payment.
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Michael Cohen testified in front of a grand jury in a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payment to adult entertainer Stormy Daniels in 2016, with many speculating that an indictment may come soon, per The New York Times. Cohen, 56, was once Trump’s lawyer and fixer, before he was arrested for tax evasion and lying about the hush money payment to Daniels, 43, before serving three years in prison, including a brief home release. Cohen has recounted his experiences with Trump in his tell-all book Disloyal: A Memoir, which he released in 2020.
Cohen’s memoir shared many of the former lawyer’s thoughts about Trump and his experiences with him, including a recollection of an inappropriate comment that Trump had allegedly made about Cohen’s then-15-year-old daughter. “I would have liked to smack him across the side of the head,” he said about the comment.
Cohen’s testimony is considered a key part in the investigation into Trump, 76, and many are waiting to learn if prosecutors intend to indict the former president on the charges, which have considered the payment to Daniels to be an improper campaign donation. Find out more about Cohen and his past charges here.
1. Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison in December 2018
He pleaded guilty to tax evasion and lying to Congress about paying “hush money” to silence Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal about claims they had affairs with Donald Trump. “Each of these crimes is a serious offense against the United States,” the judge told him. “Mr. Cohen pled guilty to a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.”
He started the sentence on March 6, 2019. Prior to the sentencing, Michael took “full responsibility” for the crimes, “for each act that I pled guilty to…the personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America. My own weakness was blind loyalty to the man that caused me to choose the path of darkness. Time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”
Cohen was released early from prison due to concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020, per Reuters. Despite the early release, he did briefly return to prison, but he was released again in July 2020, being allowed to serve the rest of his sentence at home, and saying he had taken a job with a political action committee.
2. He admitted he paid off Stormy Daniels
When Daniels first shared her story about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump, Cohen immediately jumped to his client’s defense. Yes, Daniels was given $130,000 to stay quiet about the affair, but Cohen claims that it came out of his own pocket. It’s the timing of the payment that raises red flags. It wasn’t in 2006, when the alleged affair occurred, or in 2011 when Life & Style printed their story about the scandal. It was 11 days before the 2016 presidential election.
In a February 13 statement, Cohen said that, despite the payoff, he doesn’t actually think Daniels and Trump had an affair. “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage,” he said.“I will always protect Mr. Trump.” The payoff could be a possible violation of federal campaign law, which is what the current criminal investigation is looking into.
Cohen’s personal lawyer, David Schwartz, maintained his innocence to CBS News.”Mr. Cohen paid the $130,000 but the reason is to protect business, protect reputation, and to protect family,” Schwartz said. Former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle told the outlet, though, that “Mr. Cohen is getting himself into deeper legal problems that could make him more vulnerable in the Mueller investigation. I don’t think that necessarily benefits others that are potentially the topic of that investigation including the president of the United States himself.”
3. Daniels sued him for defamation
Daniels amended her lawsuit against Trump on March 26, 2018, claiming that Cohen defamed her when he suggested that she lied about her alleged affair with the now-president. The complaint argues that though Cohen didn’t directly accuse Daniels of lying about the alleged affair, he defamed her by implying it.
Daniels claims in the lawsuit filed by her former lawyer, Michael Avenatti, that, “It was reasonably understood that Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels is a liar; someone who should not be trusted. Mr. Cohen made the statement knowing it was false, or had serious doubts about the truth of the statements.”
4. He has a history of alleged threats
Cohen has publicly threatened journalists. “I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have,” he said to a Daily Beast reporter who once called him for a story. “So I’m warning you, tread very f**king lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f**king disgusting. You understand me? You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up…for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet
“You’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he added. He also retweeted threats to Megyn Kelly. After she grilled Trump on his treatment of women during that infamous 2015 GOP debate, he called Megyn a liar and retweeted people who said “Let’s gut her,” and called her a “snake” and a “psycho.”
5. He’s been seen dining with Kanye West
Since his release from prison, Cohen was spotted taking lunch with a very high-profile figure: Kanye West. While details about their meetings were scarce, Cohen and the rapper were seen together in New York City on two occasions in October 2021.