Jul 27, 2018

Go deeper: Why Trump is tweeting about Michael Cohen’s taxi business

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

President Trump suggested on Friday that his former lawyer Michael Cohen "is trying to make up stories ... to get himself out of an unrelated jam" regarding taxi cabs.

Why it matters: Cohen's legal troubles are no secret — Trump mentioned them when he distanced himself in April, saying federal investigators were "looking at his businesses ... and I've been told I'm not involved." A significant portion of Cohen's business records, including ownership and management of taxi companies, is "under the microscope of federal prosecutors," the New York Times reports.

The backdrop

Cohen has "often operated in the backwaters of the financial and legal worlds," the Times reports. He has avoided criminal charges, but some of his associates haven't.

  • He was introduced to the taxi business through his wife's family.
  • Cohen partnered with a Ukrainian businessman, Symon Garber, who was working to finance taxi businesses in the U.S. and Russia.
  • He built up millions of dollars in debt by borrowing from banks and credit unions to purchase taxi medallions, reports the Times, which allow people to own and operate their own taxis.
  • In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Cohen and Garber were overseeing 260 cabs, and making millions.
  • In 2006, Cohen put management of the cabs into Gerber's hands, and was bringing in around $1 million annually. They later had a falling out, after which Cohen went into business with a Russian immigrant, Evgeny Freidman, who had his own taxi business.
  • A year later in 2007, Cohen joined the Trump Organization.
The controversies
  • Cohen's taxi partnerships faced a number of legal issues, and both Freidman and Garber were forced to "pay more than $1 million for overcharging their drivers."
  • They've also been accused of "forging signatures, stiffing lawyers and dodging debt collection efforts."
  • Since the rise of ride-sharing services, Cohen's businesses have fallen behind on their taxes, owing more than $375,000.
  • And even still, with a federal investigation ongoing, Cohen has continued to engage in "financial maneuvering," the Times reports, borrowing and lending millions.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump acknowledges lists of disloyal government officials to oust

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Monday acknowledged the existence of assembled lists of government officials that his administration plans to oust and replace with trusted pro-Trump people, which were first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan.

What he's saying: “I don’t think it's a big problem. I don’t think it's very many people,” Trump said during a press conference in India, adding he wants “people who are good for the country, loyal to the country.”

Coronavirus only part of the story behind the Dow’s drop

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

As someone has certainly told you by now, the Dow fell by more than 1,000 points yesterday, its worst day in more than two years, erasing all of 2020's gains. Most news headlines assert that the stock market's momentum was finally broken by "coronavirus fears," but that's not the full story.

What's happening: The novel coronavirus has been infecting and killing scores of people for close to a month and, depending on the day, the market has sold off or risen to record highs.

Bernie's historic Jewish fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sen. Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish presidential nominee of a major American political party — but that history-making possibility is being overshadowed by his conflicts with America's Jewish leaders and Israel's leadership.

The big picture: That's partly because we're all focusing on the implications of Democrats nominating a self-described democratic socialist. It's also because a candidate's religion no longer seems to matter as much to voters or the media, making the potential milestone of a Jewish nominee more of a non-event.