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Michael Cohen, the “pitbull” who became Trump’s bête noire

Photo: Spencer Platt Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's ex-lawyer

France Media Agency in New York

Published yesterday at 3:20 p.m. Updated yesterday at 6:21 p.m.

  • United States

With Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, we immediately find ourselves immersed in the atmosphere of a television series about the troubled circles of New York, where experts in schemes and lawyers little looking at juicy deals.

Alongside porn actress Stormy Daniels, the 57-year-old man is the star witness in the billionaire's trial in court from Manhattan, where he arrived on Monday without speaking.

The New Yorker with salt-and-pepper hair could also appear in a film by Martin Scorsese, who knows so well how to depict the machismo of the powerful, the oaths of allegiance, the porosity between the underworld and the elected officials.

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As the director of Taxi Driver, Michael Cohen was interested in the famous yellow taxis, investing with his Ukrainian wife in licenses which, at one time, were worth a fortune.

And like the driver played by Robert de Niro, serining in front of his mirror “You talkin' to me ?“, the lawyer has a dry and sharp tone, against the background of a Long Island accent.

“Who says it?” he once snapped at a CNN journalist, abruptly cutting her off about polls unfavorable to his employer.


For a long time, Mr. Cohen was a loyal supporter of Donald Trump, going so far as to be presented ironically as the sixth child of the real estate mogul. He then confided that he was ready to take a bullet in the big boss's place.

“If someone does something that doesn't please Trump,” he said in 2011 on television, “I'm going to grab him, grab him by the collar, and I won't let go until I'm done.”

Hence the nickname “pitbull” attached to this lover of beautiful cars and the opulent condominiums of the Trump Organization where he invested, even convincing his parents and in-laws to imitate him.

For an annual salary of US$500,000, the lawyer took care of the dirty work. Like threatening journalists who are interested in the dark sides of the billionaire turned reality TV star.

Or even paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, in exchange for her silence on a alleged sexual relationship with his mentor. Such confidentiality clauses have become almost a trademark of Mr. Cohen, who has thus protected other moguls in the hot seat.

From Queens… to the 5th Avenue

Before the gilded halls of Manhattan, Mr. Cohen experienced a less rosy warehouse district in Queens.

According to a ProPublica investigation, “many people who crossed paths with Cohen when he worked in Queens or Brooklyn were disciplined, disbarred, charged with, or convicted of crimes.”

In fact, his early career evokes the fictional character of Saul Goodman, the boastful, insignificant and semi-crooked lawyer from the series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, to which it is compared.

In the United States, some lawyers are nicknamed “ambulance chasers”, due to their speed in offering their services to victims of all kinds. Michael Cohen is one.

In a case that the opportunist Saul would not have denied, he once defended a woman involved in an insurance scam based on a bogus road accident.

Made at the same time, his personal investments evoke those of Donald Trump, even if they date back to before their meeting: the lawyer makes investments in real estate, casino cruises, a nightclub. He also dabbles in politics.

Like Saul, Michael Cohen knows how to take the paralegal path, use intimidation tactics, avoid a trial by spending money .

The lawyer had previously attended the Thomas Cooley School of Law in the state of Michigan, which has the reputation of being the worst in the United States. United. The boss of the first firm that employed him was accused of fraud.


And yet. From the man who makes problems disappear, Michael Cohen will suddenly become Donald Trump's number 1 problem during his presidential term.

This turning point, in 2018, was precipitated by the famous investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian interference. When his office was raided by FBI sleuths, targeted by multiple accusations of fraud, the lawyer felt “let down” by his mentor.

Sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence he is essentially serving confined at home, Michael Cohen said he was ready to cooperate with prosecutors. A turnaround that culminates with the current trial in Manhattan. For Donald Trump, his former confidant is nothing more than a “liar” and a “snitch.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116