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Who is Michael Cohen?

Stormy Daniels' lawyer "only getting started"
Stormy Daniels' attorney says "Michael Cohen has zero credibility" 05:33

Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, finds himself at the heart of the ongoing scandal involving Stephanie Clifford, an adult film actress who performs under the name Stormy Daniels. The day before "60 Minutes" released its bombshell interview with Stormy Daniels, Mr. Trump had dinner with him.

But Cohen, who was born on Long Island and is often described as Mr. Trump's "fixer" or "pit bull," is no stranger to controversy. Known for his fierce loyalty to Mr. Trump, Cohen occasionally made headlines as a spokesman for the then-candidate during the 2016 campaign.

In 2015, for example, Cohen made on-the-record threats to a Daily Beast reporter. The publication was working on a story on Ivana Trump's rape allegations against her then-husband, which she has since recanted, during their bitter divorce battle in the 1980s.

"I'm warning you, tread very f---ing lightly," Cohen told the Daily Beast's Tim Mak, "because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f---ing disgusting."

There were also his comments to a CNN reporter in August 2016, which quickly went viral. When asked about polling at the time that showed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton leading Mr. Trump, a combative Cohen demanded to know "which polls" showed her winning. "All of them," the CNN reporter replied.

Cohen, who was a successful personal injury lawyer, joined the Trump Organization in 2006. Like Mr. Trump, he has donated to and voted for both Republicans and Democrats, and said he supported President Obama in the 2008 election.

Souring on Obama, Cohen soon became a major cheerleader for Mr. Trump's presidential ambitions. In 2010, when Mr. Trump was flirting with running for the 2012 GOP nomination, he launched a website called "Should Trump Run?" that looked to draft his boss into the race.

In his role as Mr. Trump's defender, promoter, and legal counsel, his job resembles the one Roy Cohn performed for the real estate tycoon in the 1980s. And when Mr. Trump was elected president, he retained Cohen's services as his personal attorney.

Cohen has since become Mr. Trump's point man in dealing with allegations brought by women against the president. In this role, Cohen has utilized his reportedly close relationship with American Media, Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer. According to a lawsuit filed by former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with Mr. Trump more than a decade ago, Cohen facilitated a deal through for AMI to pay her in return for her silence.

Cohen also plays a major role in the ongoing saga involving Stormy Daniels, who says Cohen paid her hush money through a Delaware-based company he created before the 2016 election. Stormy Daniels says she was paid $130,000 in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement.

When stories about the non-disclosure agreement began to surface earlier this year, Daniels signed a statement, which was released by Cohen, saying that she had never had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Daniels now says that that denial was a lie, and that she signed it "because they made me feel like I had no choice ... the exact sentence used was, 'They can make your life hell in many different ways.'"

When pressed on whom "they" referred to, Daniels said, "I'm not exactly sure who they were. I believe it to be Michael Cohen."

For his part, Cohen has denied ever threatening Daniels. Meanwhile, attorneys for Mr. Trump say that Daniels lied in her interview with "60 Minutes."

This piece has been updated.

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