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Michael Cohen is the former lawyer of United States President Donald Trump. Cohen, who was once known as Trump's "fixer," admitted to making potentially illegal payments on Trump's behalf to several women, particularly in Trump's ongoing alleged affair with adult film actor Stormy Daniels.
Michael Cohen first entered the public sector as a volunteer for Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988. Four years later, in 1992, Cohen began practicing law, primarily as a personal injury lawyer. He eventually opened his own practice.
Relationship With Trump
In 2006, Donald Trump hired Michael Cohen, overseeing the Trump Park Avenue apartment building. Cohen said of his relationship with Trump, "When he finds someone who he considers capable, does a great job and accomplishes the task, he tends to go back to that person again and again and again[…]He’s comfortable with people who he deems worthy."
Stormy Daniels Affair
On January 12th, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen had arranged to pay porn star Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 in exchange for her silence about a sexual encounter she had with Trump in July of 2006 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, one year after Trump had married Melania, and four months after she gave birth to Barron Trump. Cohen did not address the rumored payout but said in a statement that both Trump and Clifford denied the allegation. Cohen provided a statement from Clifford in which she denied the allegations of a payout, writing:
"My involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more. When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence. Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false. If indeed I did have a relationship with Donald Trump, trust me, you wouldn't be reading about in the news, you would be reading about it in my book. But the fact of the matter is, these stories are not true."
On April 9th, 2018, the FBI raided Michael Cohen's office and New York City hotel room, seizing business records, emails, and documents related to the Stormy Daniels case. In a statement, Cohen's lawyer Stephen Ryan said he was told by federal prosecutors that the action was "in part, a referral by the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller." Donald Trump spoke to reporters about the raid later that day, criticizing the ongoing FBI investigation as a "witch-hunt," criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russiagate investigation and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and once again floated the idea of firing Robert Mueller. Federal guidelines suggest Rosenstein would have approved the raid. The following morning, Trump tweeted "Attorney-client privilege is dead!" and "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!" (shown below).
Former US Attorney Preet Bahara, who served in the Southern District of New York was quoted as saying "It's being done because people think it's very serious, people think it's totally warranted and people think there's evidence of a significant enough nature that you're going to risk doing something sensitive like raiding a law office."
On August 21st, 2018, President Trump's former lawyer and onetime campaign chairman Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight crimes, admitting to paying off two women, Daniels and Playboy Playmate Kaen McDougal, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," he said.
Detractors of President Trump celebrated the guilty plea, along with the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, which happened almost simultaneously (examples below).
President Trump responded to the news by denouncing Cohen. On August 22nd, he tweeted,  "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!" The tweet (shown below) received more than 19,000 retweets and 70,000 likes in less than five hours.
On December 7th, 2018, the special prosecutors submitted sentencing recommendation for President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. In the court filing, a party known as "Individual-1" was named as the coordinator of the payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels and Stephanie Cliffords and Karen McDougal in regards to alleged affairs with Donald Trump.
Five days later, on December 12th, a U.S. district court judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison. Cohen said of the sentencing, "I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: The personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America[…]blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light."
January 2019 Wall Street Journal Report
On January 17th, 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that early in Donald Trump's 2015/2016 campaign for president, Cohen had agreed to pay Mr. Gauger of RedFinch Solutions LLC $50,000 to rig early CNBC and Drudge Report online polls in Trump's favor. Gauger alleges that he was stiffed, only receiving between $12,000 and $13,000. Cohen confirmed the story on his Twitter account, saying that he did so at the direction of Donald Trump (shown below).
Additionally, the report stated that Cohen had asked Gauger to set up a @WomenforCohen Twitter account, which was intended to show Cohen as a sex symbol desired by many women. The account is still extant (example tweets shown below).
Many Twitter users mocked the news that Cohen had set up a vanity account for himself. Comedian Nathan Fielder created a parody account, @WomenForNathan (shown below, left). User @cd_hooks joked the news was proof we were living in a simulation (shown below, right).
February 27th Congressional Testimony
On February 27th, 2019, Michael Cohen gave testimony to Congress about his relationship with Trump, alleging that Trump willingly and knowingly engaged in illegal acts as President. He presented the committee with checks he had received as part of the $130,000 reimbursement for his Stormy Daniels hush money payment and testified that he had heard Trump discuss the Wikileaks dump of the 2016 Democratic National Committee Emails with Roger Stone over a speakerphone call. According to Cohen, Stone told Trump that Wikileaks would be releasing the emails soon, and Trump responded to the effect of "wouldn't that be great."
Cohen alleged Trump knew of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and lied about it.
Additionally, he could not confirm that Trump knew of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting at Moscow Tower which he had done under the impression of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, but stated he suspected Trump knew because of an instance where Trump Jr. spoke to Trump in an unusual manner, saying “The meeting is all set" and Trump saying "Okay good, let me know" days before the meeting took place.
Cohen also alleged Trump is a racist and has worked to manipulate public perception of his wealth. He "inflated his assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes." He also provided Congress documents he had written to schools Trump attended threatening them to not publish Trump's standardized test scores. This was confirmed by Fordham University. Cohen's prepared testimony was published by Politico the day prior to the testimony.
Matt Gaetz Threatening Tweet
The day prior to Cohen's testimony, Republican congressman Matthew Gaetz of Florida tweeted "Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…"
The tweet was widely interpreted as a criminal witness intimidation tactic on Gaetz' part. Former Department of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman tweeted "Hey @mattgaetz – Does your personal attorney know you’ve just engaged, very clearly, in the crime of witness tampering? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat" (shown below, left). Lawyer and author Laurence Tribe wrote that Gaetz had clearly "engaged in criminal witness tampering in plain sight" (shown below, right). CNN wrote that Gaetz had "straight-up" threatened Cohen.
Gaetz claimed he was not "witness tampering" but rather "witness-testing." After Gaetz' tweet, Nancy Pelosi tweeted, "I encourage all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties" (shown below, left). The following day, Gaetz tweeted his apologies, saying he did not intend to threaten Cohen (shown below, right). The Onion parodied Gaetz with an article titled "Matt Gaetz Insists Pointing Rifle At Michael Cohen Throughout Testimony Not Witness Intimidation."
"Liar Liar" Sign
During the testimony, a sign appeared on the House Republican side of the committee reading "Liar Liar Pants on Fire," showing Cohen's face (shown below).
Twitter users joked about the impotence of the sign. User @MEPFuller tweeted a joke about the sign, gaining over 180 likes (shown below, left). User @JessieLehrich joked "when you are definitely winning on the substance," gaining over 60 likes (shown below, right).
Throughout his tenure in the Trump organization, Cohen was mostly referred to as Trump's "fixer," meaning he acted as a go-between for Trump and potentially illegal and/or damaging situations. Some referred to his "bulldog tactics" as the attribute that impressed Trump to begin with.
Many mocked Cohen's loyalty to Trump, his criminal activity and his Long Island accent. On April 15th, 2018, Saturday Night Live parodied Cohen's arrest in an extended parody of the film Meet the Parents (shown below).
Says Who? refers to a series of jokes mocking Michael Cohen, lawyer and spokesperson for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, after he responded to CNN's Brianna Keilar telling him Trump was losing in all the polls with "Says who?"
Individual 1 refers to a series of jokes and references to an unnamed person in federal prosecutor's office sentencing recommendations for United States President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. Many have speculated that President Trump is "Individual-1."
 The New York Times – Trump Foot Soldier Sidelined Under Glare of Russia Inquiry
 Wall Street Journal – Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star’s Silence
 Talking Points Memo – Full Transcript of Trump Pool Spray Rant on Cohen FBI Raid
 Wall Street Journal – Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal
 Wall Street Journal – Cohen Hired IT Firm to Rig Early CNBC, Drudge Polls to Favor Trump
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