Podcasts, Tell-All Books and Prison Merch: How Michael Cohen Profited After Pivoting From Loyal Fixer to Trump Antagonist

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The key witness in the hush-money case has made more than $3 million from two anti-Trump books and is working on a third

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen and Donald Trump (Chris Smith/TheWrap)

Michael Cohen, the self-described “designated thug” for Donald Trump, spent an explosive week on the witness stand in the climax of the former president’s criminal hush money trial, testifying how he worked for years to cover up his former boss’ secret issues and affairs — and now he’s shopping a new book.

Since leaving Trump world, Cohen has dedicated his life to holding his ex-boss accountable, he told a Manhattan jury, while also profiting from turning on Trump through numerous lucrative media projects.

Lying to protect Trump landed the former fixer in prison for perjury and cost him his law license. So Cohen turned to books, podcasts and selling merch to make a living, including a third book he is currently writing and shopping, TheWrap has learned.

Cohen claimed on the witness stand that he has earned around $3.4 million from his books about his former longtime boss. 

“I wanted it all: power, the good life, public acclaim, fame, big deals, fast cars, private planes, the excess and glamor and zest for life,” Cohen wrote in an excerpt of “Disloyal,” his prison memoir that Trump attorney Todd Blanche read aloud on Tuesday for jurors.

Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House communications director under Trump, said Cohen had little choice but to pivot to his newfound infamy. “He’s not making a profit on Trump,” Scaramucci told TheWrap. “He’s just trying to survive.”

Donny Deutsch, the advertising and branding guru and a regular on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said that since Cohen was disbarred as a lawyer he has worked hard to reinvent himself as a media star, in the vein of Trump.

“He’s written his books and he’s done his podcasts,” Deutsch told TheWrap. “My advice to Michael would be to move on and do whatever you can to start a new life.”

In “Disloyal,” Cohen detailed his experiences working for Trump and his organization. His second book, “Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the U.S. Department of Justice Against His Critics,” was a “forensic dissection” of the alleged “corrupt” DOJ prosecution against him, he said in court.

Cohen also has two podcasts, titled “Mea Culpa” and “Political Beatdown,” on which he has blasted Trump as a “dictator douchebag,” a “boorish cartoon misogynist” and a “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain.” (Trump cannot respond because he is under a gag order.)

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen appearing on CNN (Photo credit: CNN)

Cohen even interviewed porn star Stormy Daniels in 2011 on “Mea Culpa,” apologizing to her about the alleged $130,000 hush money payments Cohen said he made on Trump’s behalf following their affair, which Trump still strongly insists did not happen.  

On Tuesday, jurors were shown a series of items that Michael Cohen sells. “This is a $32 shirt that has a picture of President Trump in an orange jumpsuit behind bars?” defense attorney Todd Blanche asked. “That’s what the picture shows,” Cohen answered.

“You actually wore that T-shirt on your TikTok last week?” Blanche said.

“I did,” Cohen said.

He has been doing live posts about Trump six nights a week on TikTok where he sells his merch and expounds on his views of Trump.

TheWrap reported earlier this week that Cohen is also pitching a reality show called “The Fixer” to studios and streamers in which he promises to help “the little guy” resolve their problems. He says in a teaser for the show: “I am your fixer.”

Prosecutors and the judge in the Trump trial, Juan Merchan, have warned Cohen to stop doing interviews ahead of the Trump trial, but the former fixer has done numerous television appearances and recorded a series of podcast episodes.

TheWrap has learned Cohen’s third book is based on his history as Trump’s fixer and is intended to bolster his reputation and chances to sell his reality show. Whether the book will include his experiences at the trial is unknown. 

“I don’t think he’s doing it for money,” Scaramucci added. “When you make mistakes, you have to own up to your mistakes, what else can you do?”

A lawyer for Cohen did not respond to requests for comment from TheWrap. A spokesperson for Trump also did not respond.

“The Fixer”

Cohen has apparently learned from Trump that even bad press and excessive showmanship can lead to lucrative leanings. He does not have a theatrical agent but does have a lawyer, Danya Perry, and a book agent at Skyhorse Publishing.

“For years, I was the personal lawyer for a notoriously bad man,” Cohen says in a sizzle reel for “The Fixer,” the TV show he’s shopping to studios and streamers. “I fixed his problems, both professional and personal, gaining power, wealth and notoriety for myself in the process. And I paid the price for it.” 

Since then, Cohen said he’s been on “a journey of redemption, working to set things right with my family, my friends, my country, speaking truth to power and calling it like I see it. Now I’m paying it forward, wielding the tools that I’ve learned for regular people in trouble.”

The sizzle clip appears to be a riff on “The Apprentice,” Trump’s hit show. 

“The little guy doesn’t usually have access to people with my particular set of skills. But that’s all about to change. I’ll work with you, offering expertise, advice and solutions to fix your problems. Together we will change your life,” Cohen concludes. “I am your fixer.”

Donald Trump in "The Apprentice."
Donald Trump in “The Apprentice.” (NBC)

Cohen’s past dealings

Trump hit back at Cohen, saying federal investigators were looking at his businesses including ownership and management of taxi companies, The New York Times reported in 2018. Cohen had “often operated in the backwaters of the financial and legal worlds,” the Times wrote.

Cohen’s wife’s family introduced him to the taxi business in New York. He reportedly partnered with a Ukrainian businessman, Symon Garber, who was working to finance taxi businesses in the U.S. and Russia. Cohen was also a savvy real estate investor, buying two apartments in Trump buildings, which is how he met the former president.

Cohen built up millions of dollars in debt by borrowing from banks and credit unions to purchase taxi medallions, which permit people to own and operate their own taxis, the Times reported. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Cohen and Garber were overseeing 260 cabs, and making a fortune.

In 2006, Cohen put management of the cabs into Gerber’s hands, and was bringing in around $1 million annually. But they had a disagreement, after which Cohen went into business with Russian immigrant, Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, who had his own taxi firm. A year later in 2007, Cohen joined the Trump Organization.

Cohen’s taxi partnerships ultimately didn’t fare well. They faced a number of legal issues, and both Freidman — once known as New York’s “Taxi King” — and Garber were forced to pay more than $1 million for overcharging their drivers. They were accused of “forging signatures, stiffing lawyers and dodging debt collection efforts.” Friedman was sentenced to probation for engaging in his own tax fraud and then testified against Cohen in 2019.

But after Cohen pled guilty to campaign violations, tax fraud and lying to congress, and was convicted of a federal crime in 2018, “I had to sell off my taxi medallions in New York and Chicago, because a felon can’t own them,” he told the Manhattan court this week. “I sold off all my properties apart from my primary residence and another property. I now work primarily in media and entertainment.”

Does the “Hate Trump” industry have legs?

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen on TikTok

Ahead of the trial, Cohen has appeared almost nightly on TikTok, recently dressed in a T-shirt showing Trump behind bars in an orange suit. Followers can pay for tokens to see Cohen in hats and sunglasses. It is unknown how much he makes from his social media followings.

“The prosecution is saying that he is the ‘Hate Trump’ industry … a result of which he’s manufacturing profits for himself by hating on Donald Trump,” Scaramucci said. “And so he has a motivation to exaggerate or to overly elaborate this story, or at least make the jury think that he’s not telling the truth…[but] he said it all in books. He said it all in his podcast. What else does he have left?” 

Deutsch said Cohen has a chance to make a “complete fresh start” but it won’t be easy. 

“When you have served time, you’ve been a convicted felon and been as high profile as Michael is, it’s hard to move on and go back to a normal life,” Deutsch said.

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