For the entire year Donald Trump’s shady former attorney, Michael Cohen, spent in federal prison for campaign finance violations, financial fraud, and other crimes, he was receiving spoilers for movies and TV shows courtesy of comic book writer Matt Miner.
Thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Cohen was released to home detention in May 2020 after serving around a year of his three-and-a-half year prison sentence for illegally orchestrating hush-money payments on behalf of Trump and lying to Congress. He’s since tried his best to rebuild his public image by providing information about illicit or sordid activities he was privy to as the president’s attorney. (The Federal Bureau of Prisons later re-imprisoned him, but Cohen was released shortly after when a federal judge found the agency was trying to intimidate him from releasing a tell-all book about Trump.) Miner spent that year “gently trolling” Cohen by emailing him dozens of postcards opening with rambling personal anecdotes but abruptly switching to spoiling the plots of movies like Knives Out and TV shows like Game of Thrones.
On Tuesday, Miner launched a Kickstarter campaign to release a compilation book in collaboration with artist Sean Von Gorman featuring an imagined illustration of Cohen receiving and reading the letters.
“From the day after he reported to prison until it was announced he was being released early, which was about a year, he got around 80 postcards from me,” Miner told Gizmodo via email. “I asked myself, ‘What would a guy in his mid-50s who was pals with Donald Trump want to watch?’ Nothing pleasant came to mind. Most pornographic stuff. And not good porn. Like...the weird stuff. That and Bosch. Yuck.”
“So I just spoiled what new movies and premium TV shows myself and most people were into,” Miner added. “And if I couldn’t get to the theater to see something, I had friends spill the details to me. As a true artisan of craft, I, too, got spoiled in the process of making this book.”
For example, the postcard spoiling Game of Thrones’ final season read (obviously, spoiler warning):
Getting kinda hot and humid, but the ocean breeze is A-OK, man. Jon Snow kills Dany, Bran gets the crown, Sansa keeps the North, Arya goes adventuring, and Jon’s banished back to the wall. Does Otisville have much ocean breeze? Hope so!
In another sample Miner sent Gizmodo, he clued Cohen in as to who the killer in Knives Out was (again, spoiler warning):
It’s a gorgeous day in the city-warm w/ a cool breeze. Just ideal really except for the whole coronavirus thing being monumentally mismanaged by your dude. In Knives Out, it was Chris Evans who set it all up and framed Martha. She wins. Hope you’re healthy-would hate to lose my pen pal.
Miner, who is also the vice president of Zion’s Mission Animal Rescue, told Gizmodo that he decided upon the idea of trolling Cohen in prison because he played an instrumental role in assisting Trump’s rise to power. In particular, Miner wrote he never forgot Cohen’s obnoxious CNN interview in 2016, when the smug then-loyalist shot down polls indicating Trump would lose the presidential election.
Cohen or his legal team never responded, Miner wrote. But Miner, who has previously done work supporting imprisoned political activists, wrote in the Kickstarter campaign he “figured there was a better than average chance Mike was reading my cards, despite the spoilers” out of boredom or loneliness.
“I appreciated Cohen throwing Trump under the bus and then that bus backing up and taking out Mike, too,” Miner wrote to Gizmodo. “I don’t know, there’s been so much shock and awe with the country coming apart at the seams since 2016 that it’s hard to point to exactly who’s responsible for what, but Michael was undeniably one of the key figures who protected Trump in his private life and during the campaign on his rise to power. I can’t help but not forgive him, even if his book came with a VHS copy of the mythical pee-tape itself.”
Donors to Miner’s Kickstarter will receive a PDF for $15, a hardcover version for $35, and signed copies for $100. Miner told Gizmodo he wished he’d had the time to send Cohen even more spoilers.
“I only regret that Michael was released early, because there was at least another year’s worth of spoilers, and a much bigger book, to be had,” Miner concluded.