Michael Cohen has been spending his time behind bars writing an explosive tell-all book about his stint as President Trump’s personal lawyer and plans on releasing it before the election, according to three people familiar with the project.
Cohen, Inmate No. 86067-054, is being released early from federal prison because of concerns over coronavirus and after spending 14 days in quarantine will be reunited with his family and serve the rest of his three-year sentence at home.
Trump’s former fixer, who had been serving time at the minimum security facility in Otisville, New York, for financial crimes—including illegal hush-money payments to a Playboy playmate and a porn star who claimed they had affairs with Trump—had been slated for release in November 2021.
The actor and comedian Tom Arnold, who has been in regular contact with Cohen while he has been in prison, says Cohen told him the book would pull no punches.
“It’s like Jaws—you don’t see Jaws very much, but you hear the music, and for Trump he knows Michael is coming and Trump better hear the Jaws music,” Arnold told The Daily Beast.
“He told me he’s been writing a book and he’s pissed. He told me he is going to spill the beans. What has he got to lose now?”
Rumors of Cohen, 53, penning a lurid expose on Team Trump have been swirling for years. The Daily Beast first reported in February 2018 that Cohen was shopping a book, tentatively titled Trump Revolution: From The Tower to The White House, Understanding Donald J. Trump, and he later reached an agreement with Center Street, the conservative imprint of publishing house Hachette, to publish it.
At the time Cohen told The Daily Beast “I have been working on a book and am extremely thankful that it has been well received and sought after by multiple publishers.”
However the book deal was later scrapped owing to the myriad legal problems Cohen was facing at the time.
But Cohen remained determined to tell his side of the story and prison has given him the opportunity.
“He has been using his time wisely inside to write a book and no one should be surprised as he’s always talked about writing a book,” a person close to Cohen told The Daily Beast.
“Michael’s stories about Trump are incredible. He has saved a lot of them for when the time is right and the time is now right. Michael spent a long time with Trump—he is going to go into everything and he’s not going to hold anything back. He has paid his dues and he’s pissed he had to go to jail for this.”
Cohen’s attorney, Roger Bennet Adler, declined to comment.
Publishing industry insiders told The Daily Beast that a Cohen tell-all could fetch low- to mid-six figures depending on how much he is prepared to dish on his former boss.
“Cohen is such a singular figure that I think it would sell but it depends on what he is going to say—is he going to pull a full Cliff Sims [Sims wrote candidly about life inside the White House in his memoir Team of Vipers] or is he going to walk a more middle road like Chris Christie where he gives some dirt but doesn’t go all the way,” one publishing executive said.
“The worst-case scenario is it’s a Sean Spicer-type situation and it’s a laughingstock of a book and it will be on the best-seller list for a week. I could see Skyhorse—who recently published Woody Allen’s book—buying it. A lot of the bigger publishing houses would look at it and think that it’s not worth the trouble.”
As Trump’s former bag man, Cohen has firsthand knowledge about a pair of very dirty payoffs, which he claims the president directed him to make. Cohen ended up in prison after buying the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 election. Prosecutors said Trump directed Cohen to pay Daniels $130,000 and get McDougal $150,000 as part of a “catch and kill” arrangement with the National Enquirer. Cohen also pleaded guilty to bank fraud and tax evasion charges.
Trump has denied the affairs and has also denied directing Cohen to commit a crime.
The president previously went on a Twitter rant about Cohen writing a book.
“Wow, just revealed that Michael Cohen wrote a ‘love letter to Trump’ manuscript for a new book that he was pushing. Written and submitted long after Charlottesville and Helsinki, his phony reasons for going rogue. Book is exact opposite of his fake testimony, which now is a lie!,” the president tweeted March 1, 2019, after Cohen had testified before Congress.
Cohen recently had a brief stint in the SHU (special housing unit) after getting into an argument with a fellow prisoner over phone use before the coronavirus hit the minimum security facility, which is 70 miles northwest of Manhattan.
He had made a plea to a judge in March to have his prison sentence reduced, citing his efforts in helping law enforcement, but his request was shot down in a scathing order.
“That Cohen would seek to single himself out for release to home confinement appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle,” U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III wrote then.
“Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms.”
Sources tell The Daily Beast coronavirus spread "like wildfire" through the jail, with 16 inmates and at least seven prison employees testing positive. Cohen is among dozens of prisoners being released to house arrest.
A former prisoner who served time with Cohen told The Daily Beast that Cohen had told him about the tell-all book and said he had spoken with a publisher.
“He was bragging he was going to have a one-hour television show on ABC and he said he would be like the Count of Monte Cristo and come back and get Trump.”
Arnold predicts the book will be a “bestseller.”
“For 12 years, Michael cleaned up everything for Trump and his family. Stormy Daniels was a tiny moment in that. There’s so much more that will come out in the book.”