- Brendan McDermid/Reuters
- President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen insisted Wednesday that he and the “Taxi King,” Evgeny Freidman, were not business partners.
- Freidman agreed to cooperate with the government as a potential witness as part of a plea deal he reached Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
- It was previously reported that Freidman managed Cohen’s taxi medallions.
President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen insisted on Wednesday that he and the “Taxi King,” Evgeny Freidman, were not business partners, tweeting “#MediaWrongAgain” after The New York Times reported that as a part of his plea deal, Freidman was cooperating with the government.
“‘I am one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate my medallions according to the rules of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission,'” Cohen tweeted. “‘Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.’ #MediaWrongAgain.”
On Tuesday, The Times reported that Freidman, who was indicted last year on felony charges of criminal tax fraud and grand larceny by the New York attorney general, agreed to cooperate with the government as a potential witness as part of a plea deal with the state of New York.
“I plead guilty to a felony,” Freidman said in a statement to The Times. “I am humbled and shamed. This is me taking responsibility for my actions. Michael is a dear, dear personal friend and a passive client, that’s it. This is a very difficult day for myself and my family.”
Cohen said in his tweet that he and Freidman were never business partners, though previous reporting seems to contradict that.
Last month, Bloomberg reported that Cohen, a significant operator in the taxi business, had more than $185,000 in new state warrants for unpaid taxes on his taxi companies. At the time, Cohen said the taxes were owed not by him but by Freidman. The Real Deal reported in February that Freidman managed Cohen’s taxi medallions until April 2017.
Last February, The Real Deal published a report on Cohen and Freidman’s relationship, which began with a battle in small-claims court two decades ago. Cohen helped named Freidman’s son, Dylan, the publication reported.
The Times wrote that Freidman’s cooperation could be used as leverage to get Cohen to work with the special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials. Freidman will avoid jail time under the agreement and will assist federal and state prosecutors in investigations, The Times reported.
Cohen is the focus of a criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York. He has not been charged with a crime. Mueller initially reviewed Cohen’s conduct before referring it to that US attorney’s office. A court date in that case is set for next week.
The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room last month. A special master is overseeing the review of the documents obtained in the raids to determine what falls under attorney-client privilege and what the government could use should it prosecute Cohen.