Fixer. The title was not a formal one, but Michael D. Cohen wholeheartedly embraced the role of a lawyer at the Trump Organization. It is amounted to serving as the chief problem solver for Donald J. Trump, offering Mr. Cohen an unusually up-close view of his boss's personal and professional lives.
Mr. Cohen was often at Mr. Trump's side in the decade before he became president, including helping him sort out the challenges leading up to the 2016 election. Most famously, he helped arrange hush money payments to two women – including pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels ̵
His unflinching loyalty to his boss has often gone unreciprocated. And it was this imbalance that left the two men on a perilous ground last April, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen's home, office and hotel room. The searches were part of an inquiry, in the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which grew out of Robert S. Mueller III's examination of the Russian election meddling.
Mr. Cohen would ultimately plead guilty to multiple crimes, and is scheduled to begin serving a three-year prison term on May 6. After months of unecision, he turned to Mr. Trump last summer and has since spoken to the Southern District Prosecutors about the Trump family business and more, as well as providing information to the office of the special adviser, Mr. Mueller
A review by The New York Times of confidential emails, text messages and other communications suggest that men's falling out may have been avoided. Either way, its consequences have cast a shadow on the Trump presidency.
Here are five reasons for the undoing of their relationship issues.
Mr. Cohen implicated the president in a crime
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan effectively characterized Mr. Trump as an unidentified co-conspirator in the hush money payments, which violated the campaign finance laws because they were made to influence the outcome of the election.
At his plea hearing, Mr. Cohen said he had made payments at Mr. Trump's direction, which was consistent with other evidence, prosecutors had gathered.
Under the current Justice Department policy, the president can not be charged with a crime. But when a president is no longer in office, prosecutors are free to bring charges – a possibility cited in the report by Mueller released on Thursday.
He assisted criminal investigations into Mr. Trump's business
Mr Cohen did not enter into a formal cooperation agreement with the Southern District Prosecutors, but voluntarily met with them about his knowledge of Mr. Trump's family, business and inner circle.
If the prosecutors determine that he provided them with useful information, it would be possible for his three-year sentence to be reduced under federal sentencing rules. As such, Mr. Trump and others have dismissed his cooperation as a desperate play for leniency.
So far his information has helped several investigations, including one examining aspects of Mr. Trump's inaugural festivities.
Mr. Cohen used the spotlight to attack the president's character
Since turning on his former boss, Mr. Cohen has become one of Mr. Trump's fiercest critics, offering fodder for president's detractors.
Mr. Cohen laid into the president's testimony before the Congress in late February, exposing what he described as the dark underside of the president's business and political life. "He's a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat, "Mr. Cohen testified.
During the hearing, Trump defenders repeatedly questioned the veracity of Mr. Cohen's statements, especially because he had pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress during a previous appearance about Mr. Trump's dealings in Moscow.
But Mr. Cohen said he was coming clean.
"I have fixed things, but I am no longer your fixer," Mr. Trump, "Mr. Cohen said.
He gave the Congress a view on the president's finances
Mr. Cohen's testimony has also provided something of a road map for congressional investigators looking into Mr. Trump's finances. Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform censured records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm that had been preparing for many years. Trumps taxes.
The chairman of the committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a Democrat, said he was seeking records because of Mr. Cohen's testimony that Mr. Trump had overstated his assets before he was elected.
Mr. Cohen provided the panel with copies of financial statements that indicated Mr. Trump's net worth skyrocketed to $ 8.66 billion in 2013 from $ 4.55 billion in the previous year as a result of a line item identified as "brand value."
But the committee's ranking Republican, Jim Jordan of Ohio, said no valid legislative goals were served by the court, suggesting it was meant to embarrass the president.
There is no clear endgame
The status of several criminal investigations that grew out of Mr. Cohen's interviews with federal prosecutors remains unclear.
In New York, several inquiries carried out by the state authorities in response to Mr. Cohen's congressional testimonies are still active. They include one by the attorney general to Mr. Trump's real estate projects, and another by the state regulator into his insurance practices.
And as Mr. Cohen's May 6 surrender date nears, his lawyers seem to be making a last-ditch effort to keep him out of prison. They wrote earlier this month to the Democratic members of the Congress, asking them to endorse a campaign to reduce their sentence or postpone their surrender. But the effort does not seem to have borne fruit.
Mr. Cohen's three-year prison term is the longest, but any case that grew out of a special counsel's inquiry, after the death of Paul J. Manafort, who was sentenced to over seven years in prison.
Nonetheless, the redacted version of the The Mueller report indicates that federal authorities were debriefing Mr. Cohen as recently as last month.
The full range of topics discussed is not known. But the footnotes point to an F.B.I. document, dated March 19, based on an interview with Mr. Cohen The document is cited in connection with the statements he made about his conversations with the president after the F.B.I. Raid and about a Trump Tower project in Russia, as well as discussions with the president's lawyer about a possible pardon.