Evgeny Freidman, a longtime business partner of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, agreed to assist lawyers in both state and federal investigations in exchange for a plea deal, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Freidman, otherwise known as the “Taxi King,” is a Russian immigrant who has been a partner with Cohen within the New York taxi industry for several years. According to the Times, Friedman’s cooperation could coerce Cohen to work with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Freidman faces several charges, including four counts of criminal tax fraud and one grand larceny. He was also disbarred in May after reportedly failing to pay over $5 million in taxes.
Yet other members of Trump’s legal team argue that Cohen is less involved with Freidman than it seems.
“He’s just not involved in the taxis,” said former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. “He has as much involvement in it as I do.”
Cohen took to Twitter Wednesday morning to distance himself from the “Taxi King.”
“Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other,” he tweeted. “#MediaWrongAgain.”
“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. Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.” #MediaWrongAgain
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) May 23, 2018
Cohen is facing some legal troubles of his own.
Back in April, FBI investigators raided the embattled attorney’s home, office, and hotel room in search of documents, some of which pertained to the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Trump labeled the raid, which was ordered in part by Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, as a “witch hunt” and attack on attorney-client privilege.
Attorney–client privilege is dead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2018
Cohen’s also been accused of accepting a half a million dollar payment from a Russian-linked associate after the 2016 election.
Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ personal lawyer, said that Cohen accepted a lump sum from Kremlin oligarch Viktor Vekselberg — an individual with close ties to President Vladimir Putin — and used those funds to reimburse the hush payment.