Who is Laura Shusterman?
Laura Shusterman is a Ukrainian-American entrepreneur and investor. She is the wife of former attorney Michael Cohen, who served as the lawyer for the current US President Donald Trump from 2006 until May 2018. Her father, businessman and investor Fima Shusterman, relocated to America from Ukraine in 1975 and gradually created a business empire. It was apparently Fima who introduced his son-in-law to Trump. In time, Cohen became one of the most trusted advisors of the future president, even holding the position of the vice president in The Trump Organization at one point. Media dubbed him Trump’s “fixer” and it is widely recognized that he played a pivotal role in Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. He and Shusterman also found significant financial success with their various business ventures, including taxi medallions. Since the Mueller investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 United States election started, Shusterman and her two children have been subjected to harassment, insults, and threats.
Childhood & Early Life
Laura Shusterman was born in 1970 in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine) to Ania and Fima Shusterman. In 1975, her father moved to US and was eventually followed by the rest of the family.
Her husband’s trial and subsequent conviction is not the first time that Shusterman had to witness a member of her immediate family experience legal troubles. In 1993, her father agreed to plead guilty to the charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and testify at the trial of his accountant Harold Wapnick, in exchange for the promise of leniency in his sentencing. He eventually received probation and a $5,000 fine.
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Relationship with Michael Cohen
Laura Shusterman grew up in an affluent family, so did Cohen. His father, who had survived the Holocaust, was a surgeon, and the family lived in Long Island, New York. After receiving his JD from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1991, Cohen began his law career in New York in 1992. He and Shusterman married in either 1994 or 1995 and have two children together, Samantha Blake and Jake Ross. Samantha is a University of Pennsylvania graduate while Jake is presently studying at the University of Miami.
Not much is known about Laura Shusterman’s career prior to her marriage to Cohen. The couple accumulated much of their wealth through their taxi business. After coming to US, Shusterman’s father spent the initial years working as a taxi driver. By 1993, he had gathered nine taxi medallions, the greatly desired metal placards that allow the owners to run taxis. At the time, they were valued together at roughly $1.5 million.
Fima later brought his son-in-law into the business and helped him set up his own venture involving taxi medallions. In the next few years, Cohen grew the business exponentially and by the late 1990s and 2000s, he and his partner Symon Garber, another Ukrainian-born businessman, were operating 260 taxis. However, according to reports, Cohen and Shusterman have not yet paid $37,434 in taxes to the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) for the business. While medallions used to be a very profitable financial venture, the advent of ride-hailing services has decreased their market share.
‘Talking Points Memo’ reported that Shusterman’s parents are involved in her and Cohen’s taxi business as well. They also share ownership of properties in Trump Tower in New York on the United Nations Plaza.
Husband''s Association With Donald Trump & Legal Troubles
According to author and biographer Seth Hettena, Cohen met Trump through his father-in-law, who had allegedly invested a significant amount of money into Trump ventures. Regarded by the media as the future president’s “fixer”, Cohen was his personal counsel and one of the most trusted advisors. He held several positions in various Trump ventures, serving as the vice president of The Trump Organization, co-president of Trump Entertainment, and board member of the Eric Trump Foundation. Among his duties as a fixer, was paying off women like Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) to stop them from discussing their alleged affairs with Trump in public.
The Mueller investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 United States election began in May 2017. Exactly a year later, Cohen was fired by Trump. In August 2018, he submitted his guilty plea to counts like tax and bank frauds and campaign finance violations. He stated that he committed campaign finance violations after being ordered by Trump to do so. In November 2018, he also pleaded guilty for lying in front of a Senate committee about the attempts to erect a Trump tower in Moscow. In December, he was sentenced to three years in federal prison and fined $50,000.
Despite her connection with Trump and the prosecutors reportedly having enough evidence to implicate her in potential crimes, Shusterman has never faced any charges. Her father was not charged either. In a tweet, President Trump questioned this, adding that his former lawyer should serve “full and complete sentence”.
According to Cohen, Shusterman and their children have experienced harassment, insults and threats since the investigation began.