Speed Reads

L'Affaire Cohen

Michael Cohen's lucrative access-peddling mostly backfired, apparently

Very few parties involved in Michael Cohen's efforts to profit off his relationship to President Trump seem to be satisfied with the arrangement. Cohen told associates he felt he was underpaid by law firm Squire Patton Boggs, which gave him $500,000 a year plus office space in New York and a cut of any fees from clients he referred, The Wall Street Journal reports, and his work for other clients and prospective clients "dragged some of the world's largest corporations and other firms into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation."

AT&T and Novartis shared information with Mueller's office about their agreements with Cohen and Ford provided information about Cohen's unsuccessful pitch to decipher Trump's inner circle, the Journal says. "More fortunate are the dozens of Fortune 100 companies who ... said they hadn't received any overtures from Mr. Cohen or had any contact with him." Along with Ford, Uber said it turned down Cohen's overtures.

Last week, AT&T ousted Bob Quinn, a senior vice president involved in paying Cohen $600,000 last year, and called the deal "a big mistake" and a "serious misjudgment." Novartis quickly determined that its $50,000-a-month contract with Cohen was useless but kept paying him so as not to anger Trump, a Novartis employee told Stat News.

Cohen had big plans after Trump's election, partly spurred by heavy losses in his taxi medallion business that left his upscale Manhattan lifestyle on what a friend called "precarious" footing, the Journal reports. After it became clear Trump wouldn't install him in the White House, Cohen began telling friends and associates that he was "going to build up a huge practice," one associate told the Journal. By last winter, Cohen was complaining to friends that Trump was "not calling him and not helping him," the Journal says, and by March he was considering whether he should quit as Trump's personal lawyer. You can read more about Cohen's hit-and-miss 2017 at The Wall Street Journal.