Michael Cohen, who did his best to smear Donald Trump last week, may well have been doing so in revenge. Last summer it was revealed that Cohen was under investigation for tax fraud.
Federal authorities are analyzing whether Cohen failed to report all of the income from his taxi-medallion business, which included “hundreds of thousands of dollars received in cash and other payments over the last five years,” according to the Journal.
Investigators are also probing whether any bank employees improperly extended loans to Cohen without adequate documentation, and whether Cohen made false statements or misrepresentations on loan applications.
In particular, federal investigators are looking closely at Mr. Cohen’s relationship with Sterling National Bank—which provided financing for Mr. Cohen’s taxi-medallion business—including whether Mr. Cohen inflated the value of any of his assets as collateral for loans, according to people familiar with the matter.
Convictions for federal tax- and bank-fraud may carry potentially significant prison sentences, which could put additional pressure on Mr. Cohen to cooperate with prosecutors if he is charged with those crimes, according to former federal prosecutors. –WSJ
The key here is that Cohen wasn’t acting alone. Cohen’s wife Laura was involved:
While Michael Cohen once described himself as Trump’s “fixer,” Cohen has persued his own ventures – including real estate, taxi medallions and personal loans.
As of April 2018, Mr. Cohen owned 22 medallions in Chicago, and either he or his wife, Laura, controlled 32 medallions in New York City, some of which were also owned at least partly by family members and others, according to public records.
As recently as 2014, taxi medallions were considered a rock-solid investment. The medallions, issued by a city agency and required for running a taxi, are bought and sold on a secondary market. Some licenses for taxi medallions in New York sold for an average $1.25 million per medallion in 2013 and 2014, according to bankruptcy filings.
But in recent years, their value has plummeted amid competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. In a filing for a federal bankruptcy case in June 2017, Mr. Freidman said the estimated value of each medallion had dropped to approximately $200,000 to $225,000. –WSJ
Cohen claimed to stand by Trump for a long time- until Mueller did the Cohen what he had done to Michael Flynn.
Threaten the family. In this case, Mueller threatened to go after Cohen’s wife Laura
But a key Trump administration official, who inadvertently played a central role in Wednesday’s House hearing, has claimed there is another reason for Cohen’s betrayal—that his wife was being threatened with jail time unless he “turned on” Trump.
The assertion was made in a Facebook entry by Department of Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton in January. The post has taken on new relevance given Cohen’s testimony Wednesday.
“What many of you may not be aware of is the fact that I can personally confirm that the ONLY reason Michael Cohen ‘turned on’ the President of the United States is because Mueller threatened to throw his wife in jail for up to 30 years. Period,” Patton posted on Jan. 18.
“She is the co-guarantor of a $20M personal loan that Mueller discovered Michael secured back in 2015 by falsely inflating the value of his taxi medallions—effectively making her part & parcel to the federal charge of ‘Making False Statements to a Financial Institution,’ to which Cohen ultimately plead guilty,” she continued, adding that was also the reason a “longtime taxi medallion partner” was granted immunity.
Despite Patton’s suggestion that Mueller had jurisdiction over the loan issues, it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York that investigated and brought charges against Cohen related to bank fraud and personal business dealings. Mueller only charged Cohen with one count of making false statements to Congress, to which he pleaded guilty.
Indeed. However, the raids on Cohen’s properties were directed by one person- Mueller:
Less than two weeks after Cohen’s home, office and hotel was raided by federal prosecutors at the behest of special counsel Robert Mueller, the former Trump attorney pledged his personal residence “through a $9 million mortgage on his apartment at Trump Park Avenue” – as collateral against millions of dollars in loans from Sterling National Bank which were taken out by he and his wife in 2014 against their taxi business.
This all makes perfect sense now, especially in light of some recent revelations. Cohen’s lawyers met with Trump’s lawyers seeking a pardon shortly after Mueller’s raids.
An attorney representing Michael Cohen broached the idea of a pardon for the longtime Trump associate during a conversation last year with lawyers for the president, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The news outlet reported that Stephen Ryan allegedly discussed the possibility of a pardon with President Trump‘s attorneys Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon. The conversations reportedly took place in the weeks after the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office while the group reviewed seized files that may have qualified for attorney-client privilege.
Ryan hinted that Cohen would consider cooperating with prosecutors if he did not receive a pardon, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It was only after Trump’s lawyers turned down the request that Cohen turned on Trump. Then we learned that Cohen wasn’t stopping there. He, er, conspired with Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings and they discussed his testimony at the coming hearing:
President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen said Wednesday that he and his legal team spoke with top Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff before his testimony in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
In a testy exchange between Cohen and Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., the president’s former lawyer said that his legal team has spoken to members of the Democratic Party ahead of Wednesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill.
“We’ve spoken to the party,” Cohen said, adding that he has also spoken with Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “and his people” but added that he only consulted with his lawyers to prepare for the hearing. Cummings is chairman of the House oversight committee that held Wednesday’s hearing.
Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison but look for early release. That will be your signal that the fix was in- that Schiff and Cummings will ask for leniency.