Reality TV star, congressman and president’s ‘fixer’: The many ventures of Michael Cohen

Cohen testified that he’s thought about running for Congress and worked on a reality television show about his life

Ariana Baio
Monday 20 May 2024 22:57 BST
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Trump and Cohen discuss hush money ‘catch and kill’ plot

Disbarred lawyer, author, podcast host, one-time fixer, potential reality TV star and maybe even future congressman: Michael Cohen has worn and still hopes to wear many hats.

Over the last week, the star witness in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial has testified about his role in the alleged scheme that landed the former president with 34 counts of falsifying business records in New York — and the various ventures he’s taken up along the way.

Cohen laid out for the jury how he went from being Mr Trump’s lawyer to his fixer before he was disbarred after taking a plea deal with prosecutors in 2018 for various crimes, some connected to the reimbursements at the center of the hush-money conspiracy. As a way to make money after jail, he wrote books and started a podcast about his experience.

But on Monday, Cohen also offered some insights into his next steps, explaining that a bid for Congress or a reality TV show could be in his future now that he’s a household name.

Here’s a look into Cohen’s past, present and future jobs.

Lawyer

Cohen was a lawyer from 1992 until he was disbarred in 2019. He served as Mr Trump’s lawyer from 2006 until 2018.

Cohen took a plea deal with prosecutors in August 2018, agreeing to plead guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud.

He also pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying in front of Congress during his testimony.

Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears with his personal attorney Michael Cohen during a campaign stop at the New Spirit Revival Center church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, U.S. September 21, 2016.
Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears with his personal attorney Michael Cohen during a campaign stop at the New Spirit Revival Center church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, U.S. September 21, 2016. (REUTERS)

One-time fixer

Just days before the 2016 presidential election, Cohen paid Ms Daniels $130,000 – he says at the request of Mr Trump – to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with the former president.

Cohen testified that Mr Trump was anxious and angry about the story potentially going public and pressured him to “just do it.”

Author

Cohen wrote two books: Disloyal: A Memoir in 2020 and Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics in 2022.

Cohen testified that he made approximately $4 million from his books and podcast.

Copies of Michael Cohen’s book ‘Disloyal, a Memoir: The True Story of the Former personal attorney to President Donald Trump’ at the independent bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington, DC, on 10 September 2020
Copies of Michael Cohen’s book ‘Disloyal, a Memoir: The True Story of the Former personal attorney to President Donald Trump’ at the independent bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington, DC, on 10 September 2020 ((EPA))

Podcast host

Cohen testified that while he was under house arrest he started his podcast, Mea Culpa.

During cross-examination, the jury heard clips from an October 2023 episode where he celebrated the Manhattan DA’s indictment against Mr Trump.

Congressman

During the final day of cross-examination, Cohen told Mr Trump’s defense attorney, Todd Blanche, that he is considering running for Congress because of his “name recognition.”

“My name recognition is because of the journey I’ve been on. Is it affiliated with Mr Trump? Yes. It’s not because of Mr Trump,” Cohen said.

Cohen made a similar remark to a reporter at Semafor last August, telling them he was “interested” in running and other people were encouraging him to make a bid for Congress.

When Mr Blanche pressed Cohen if his “journey” included “near-daily attacks on [Donald] Trump,” Cohen responded: “My journey is to tell my story, yes sir.”

Michael Cohen is cross examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche before Justice Juan Merchan, as former U.S. President Donald Trump watches during Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S. May 20, 2024
Michael Cohen is cross examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche before Justice Juan Merchan, as former U.S. President Donald Trump watches during Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S. May 20, 2024 (REUTERS)

Reality TV star

Cohen told Mr Blanche there is a reality television about his life called The Fixer being shopped around with his permission.

He said he is not personally pitching the show but confirmed he would make money from it should it get picked up.

So far, the show hasn’t been picked up.

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