“So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting.”
That’s how Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, warned a Daily Beast reporter not to publish a story about his client in 2015, when Trump's presidential campaign was underway. Now, you can hear Cohen’s threats yourself: NPR published exclusive audio Thursday of Cohen’s threats to one of its own reporters, Tim Mak, when he worked for the Daily Beast. In it, Cohen financially threatens Mak and insults him multiple times. He also appears to not know that a man can, in fact, rape his wife.
At the time, the comments were published online, and since then, Cohen’s use of intimidation and coercion tactics on behalf of the president has been widely covered. Cohen has been Trump’s personal lawyer since the early 2000s and has now taken center stage in the president’s public fight with porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and was paid off to keep quiet about it a few weeks before the 2016 election.
Back in 2015, Mak was writing about claims that Trump raped his first wife, Ivana. When he reached out to the campaign for comment, Cohen called him back but didn’t want him to write the story. Cohen also claimed that spousal rape wasn’t even a crime. (It’s been illegal in the state of New York for more than three decades).
“You're talking about Donald Trump. You're talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as private individual, who never raped anybody and, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse," Cohen said.
That didn’t stop Mak from working on the story, though.
“Mark my words for it, I will make sure that you and I meet one day over in the courthouse, and I will take you for every penny you still don't have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen said. “Do not even think about going where I know you're planning on going. And that's my warning for the day.”
“Michael, besides the warning, do you have a substantive comment that I can include in the piece that reflects your views on this?” Mak responded.
“I have no views because there's no story,” Cohen said.
He continued to threaten Mak.
“So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. Do you understand me? Don't think you can hide behind your pen because it's not going to happen,” Cohen told Mak. “I'm more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because motherfucker you're going to need it.”
Cohen then explained exactly how he was going to hurt Mak and the Daily Beast. He called Mak an “idiot” and told him he’d sue him like he sued Univision when the Spanish-language network dropped Trump’s Miss USA pageant after he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” during the launch of his 2015 presidential bid.
“I think you should go ahead and write the story that you plan on writing, I think you should do it because I think you're an idiot. Alright, and I think your paper is a joke,” Cohen said. “And it's going to be my absolute pleasure to serve you with a 500 million-dollar lawsuit, like … I did to Univision.”
In August 2015, Mak did publish his story, which centered on Trump allegedly making Ivana feel “violated” during sex. The piece included many of Cohen’s threats and remarks.
In the end, however, Cohen did not file a lawsuit against Mak or The Daily Beast.
Cover image: President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen appears in front of members of the media after a closed-door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)