- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, pitched Uber on his services following the 2016 presidential election.
- Uber rejected him, a person close to the company told The Wall Street Journal, citing Cohen’s investments in a New York City taxi business.
- Cohen made a second attempt that was also rebuffed.
President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, pitched Uber on hiring him for his services following the 2016 presidential election, The Wall Street Journal reported.
But Uber rejected the pitch, citing Cohen’s investments in a New York City taxi business as a potential conflict of interest, a person close to the company told The Journal.
Cohen then modified his pitch, reminding the company that he was Trump’s lawyer, that person said, adding that Uber was “bemused” by his second attempt.
Uber’s revelation comes days after Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, published documents showing some of Cohen’s post-presidential election financial dealings. The documents showed that Cohen was able to land lucrative deals with companies such as telecom giant AT&T, pharma’s Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries, and the Russian-tied investment firm Columbus Nova, which the companies subsequently confirmed. The information Avenatti revealed could land Cohen, who is under criminal investigation but has not been charged, in more legal trouble.
Multiple people familiar with Cohen’s offers to clients following the election said he aggressively pitched himself.
“I don’t know who’s been representing you, but you should fire them all. I’m the guy you should hire,” one GOP strategist described Cohen’s sales pitch to CNN. “I’m closest to the president. I’m his personal lawyer.”
The companies, which sought his proximity to and knowledge of Trump, paid Cohen more than $1.2 million through his company, Essential Consultants LLC. That is same firm he created to pay the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and has alleged a 2006 affair with Trump. Meanwhile, the law firm Squire Patton Boggs paid Cohen more than $2 million for advice on navigating Trump’s government.
Avenatti did not make clear how he obtained the information, which had already come up in Mueller’s probe. Trump’s new personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told Business Insider in a Friday interview that he thinks Avenatti could “get himself in serious trouble.”
Cohen and his wife, Laura, built up a substantial taxi business in New York on the back of their 32 taxi licenses, known as medallions. But the value of a medallion has plummeted to roughly $163,000 from more than $1 million within the past four years amid Uber and Lyft’s gains in the taxi market, according to the report.
The Cohens’ income from their taxi fleet diminished as millions of dollars in loans they took out for the business went underwater. Now their taxi companies have piled up unpaid taxes and fines, and about half of their medallions have been suspended, Bloomberg reported, citing city records.
- Andy Kiersz/Business Insider
The taxi business the Cohens built is “deeply in debt and losing money daily,” Bloomberg reported.
They took out at least 16 loans based on the once sky-high value of the medallions, according to Bloomberg. Sterling National Bank, which lent the Cohens cash, said in a November filing that it had loans out to three taxi borrowers and that all were at high risk of default.
In a statement to The Journal, Cohen said: “These falsehoods and gross inaccuracies are only being written in the hopes of maligning me for sensationalistic purposes. The truth will prevail and will ultimately be proven in court and not by pundits.”