Crosscut Ideas Festival: Michael Cohen on Trump and consequences

The 45th president's personal lawyer and “fixer” pulls no punches about shady dealings and ongoing legal troubles.

“I’m really George Santos, by the way.” So began Michael Cohen’s May 6 appearance at the Crosscut Ideas Festival. Before the cameras started rolling, the former personal lawyer and fixer for former President Donald Trump was working the audience at the Amazon Events Center, which responded with a laugh. 

Cohen’s appearance came on the fourth anniversary of the start of his three-year prison term for tax evasion and campaign finance violations, crimes he committed while working as Trump’s personal counsel and that are at the center of the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal case against the former president.

In the session, titled “Trump, the Truth and Consequences,” Cohen offered his take on the former president’s current predicament, as well as an insider’s view of Trumpworld, along with a number of mea culpas.

Sitting opposite journalist Joni Balter, Cohen shared his thoughts on the indictment of Trump on charges related to campaign finance fraud and on the other cases against the former president — involving election interference in Georgia, the January 6 riots and the taking of classified documents — as well as the civil case concerning his sexual abuse and defamation of writer Jean E. Carroll. (Two days after the event, a jury found the former president liable on these charges and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.)

Cohen, author of the recent Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics, shared the reasons he supported Trump’s campaign for the presidency in 2016; why he continued to work for the president; and the first two things he believes Trump will do if re-elected in 2024. And he sought to draw a distinction between himself and the likes of Rep. George Santos, who has since been indicted himself, when asked by Balter, in essence, Why should we believe you now?

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