In an interview on Fox News Saturday night, President Trump talked about his one-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Trump speculated that investigators were pushing Cohen to share information about him — but in fact, the president said, there is another figure who Cohen should be sharing information about. “He should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump told Jeanine Pirro.
Michael Cohen’s father in law is Fima Shusterman; Trump has repeatedly said that both Fima and Michael Cohen’s wife, Laura, should be investigated. Here’s what you need to know about Fima Shusterman:
1. Shusterman Was Born in Ukraine & Emigrated to the US in 1975
Shusterman was born in Ukraine — he left for the United States in 1975 and is now a US citizen. Shusterman was in the garment business and also owned a fleet of taxicabs. Cohen and his wife, Laura eventually made a fortune from their own taxicabs, according to Newsweek — although the couple also reportedly owes tens of thousands of dollars to the Metropolitan Authority in connection with their taxis.
Cohen has sometimes referred to the fact that his wife has Ukrainian ancestry, especially when defending her from attack. In a statement to the Senate this year, Cohen said, “My wife and I have been married for 23 years, and are now entering into the season of our lives when we get to watch our children become adults themselves,” he stated. “My daughter, who is at an Ivy League school, and my wife, who is of Ukrainian descent, have especially been subjected to harassment, insults and threats … some so severe I cannot share them in mixed company.”
2. Shusterman May Have Introduced Cohen to Trump
Seth Hettena, a long-time Associated Press reporter who wrote a book about Trump’s possible ties to Russia, says that Cohen’s father in law was the first person to introduce him to Trump. An excerpt of Hettena’s book, Trump / Russia: A Definitive History, appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine last year.
Hettena said that his sources, former federal investigators, said that Shusterman went into business with Trump and later helped get his son in law, Michael Cohen, a job in the Trump organization. Hettena wrote, “I spoke to two former federal investigators who told me Cohen was introduced to Donald Trump by his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ukraine who arrived in the U.S. in 1975… “Fima may have been a (possibly silent) business partner with Trump, perhaps even used as a conduit for Russian investors in Trump properties and other ventures,” a former federal investigator told me. “Cohen, who married into the family, was given the job with the Trump Org as a favor to Shusterman.”
Cohen denied this and told Hettena that it was “fake news.”
3. Shusterman Allegedly Loaned $20 Million to a Cab Operator in Chicago
Over the past year, Shusterman reportedly loaned 20 million dollars to a Chicago taxicab company owned by the husband and wife team of Yasya and Semyon Shtayner. That company — the largest taxicab company in Chicago — manages 22 taxis owned by Michael Cohen, as well as more than 300 other taxis.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Yasya Shtayner secured eight loans from Shusterman between August 2017 and April 2018. The paper reported that Yasya had received 20 million dollars in loans from Shusterman during the eight months leading up to April 2018.
4. Shusterman Was Charged With Tax Fraud in 1993
In 1993, Shusterman was in court facing federal charges of trying to defraud the IRS. Shusterman was charged, along with two other men, for allegedly trying to defraud the IRS in the 1980s. You can read the charges here.
Shusterman eventually pleaded guilty to a related charge and was put on probation for two years.
5. Fima & His Wife, Ania, Decided to Sell Their Apartments in Trump Tower Last Year
Between 2002 and 2005, Fima and Ania Shusterman acquired three apartments in Trump World Tower in New York. In 2018, the couple decided to put the properties on the market, according to The Real Deal. The site reported that the couple stood to earn over 11 million dollars for the three apartments. Bloomberg also reported that the couple was in a hurry to sell their properties and were often on the phone with the agents in charge of the sales.