Michael Cohen is the New York lawyer who has been called a "pit bull" (by ABC News) and a "personal arm-twister" (by The New York Times
) for President Donald Trump
. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of banking, tax and campaign finance violations in relation to Trump's 2016 reelection campaign. Michael Cohen grew up in New York, earned a bachelor's degree from American University in 1988 and a law degree from Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School in 1991. The next year he began working as a personal injury lawyer in New York. Over the next two decades he practiced law while buying and selling real estate and building a lucrative collection of taxi medallions in both New York and Chicago. Cohen met Donald Trump after buying a series of apartments in Trump Tower, and he won Trump's favor by helping him settle a dispute with the condominium board there in 2006. Trump hired him at the Trump Organization, although Cohen's official duties there have never been clear and he has declined to elaborate publicly. He remained a personal lawyer to Donald Trump after Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016. In 2018, The Wall Street Journal
reported that Cohen had engineered a payment of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels
(real name: Stephanie Clifford) in 2016, presumably as pre-election hush money for an affair she said she had with Donald Trump in 2006. On April 9, 2018, FBI agents raided Cohen's office, home and hotel room at the behest of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. While the exact purpose of the raids was not made public, agents apparently seized a wide variety of documents, business records, emails and phone recordings. News reports in April 2018 revealed that Cohen had also arranged a $1.6 million hush money payment to an unnamed Playboy playmate from GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, a friend of Donald Trump; Broidy admitted the affair and said the woman in question had gotten pregnant. In an added twist, Cohen's lawyers revealed in court on April 16, 2018 that Cohen had also been a personal attorney for Fox News TV host Sean Hannity
. Michael Cohen was arrested and charged with five counts of tax evasion, two campaign finance violations, and a single count of making a false statement to a bank. In pleading guilty, he told the court that in making hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and another woman, Karen McDougal, he acted "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" -- that is, Donald Trump -- with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential elections.