The judge presiding over the Michael Cohen case was once in the running to be Bill Clinton's attorney general, trained to be a Playboy bunny, and officiated George Soros' wedding

Amy Sussman/Getty ImagesKimba Wood
  • The judge presiding over the Michael Cohen case has an incredible backstory.
  • She once trained to be a Playboy bunny, almost became attorney general for President Bill Clinton, and officiated billionaire investor George Soros’ 2013 wedding.

The judge presiding over the case involving President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, has an interesting story.

US District Judge Kimba Wood was, at one time, under consideration to be President Bill Clinton’s attorney general. She also briefly trained to be a Playboy bunny and officiated billionaire investing legend George Soros’ 2013 wedding.

Appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, Wood was set to be nominated as Clinton’s attorney general until a last-minute revelation caused her to withdraw from consideration.The New York Times reported in 1993 that she withdrew after “the White House learned she employed an illegal immigrant as a baby sitter before it became illegal to do so.”

It was similar to the controversy that struck the Clinton administration’s first choice for the position, Zoe Baird, who employed two immigrants in the country illegally to do housework.

The Clinton administration additionally learned that Wood briefly trained as a Playboy bunny while she was a college student in London. Wood did not cite that as a reason for her having to withdraw from the job.

As people told The Times, Wood said she signed up for a bunny trainee program in 1966, but quit after five days before she had ever received a paycheck.

Meanwhile, The New York Daily News on Monday noted that Wood was dubbed the “Love Judge” in 1995 amid an alleged extramarital affair with a millionaire Wall Street financier.

That financier’s soon-to-be ex-wife at the time found his diary, which was filled with writings about encounters with Wood, who was soon-to-be divorced as well. That financier, Frank Richardson, married Wood in 1999.

‘She is exceptionally bright, quick to perceive and has tremendous analytical abilities’

A Harvard law graduate with a masters degree from the London School of Economics, Wood now presides over what could be the biggest case of her career.

She’s had a number of prominent cases come before her, though. In 2010, she ruled that the streaming website Limewire had to be shut down following a four-year legal battle with the music industry. And she was tasked with sentencing Michael Milken, a Wall Street financier who pleaded guilty to securities fraud and racketeering in one of the most notable prosecutions of the industry during the 1980s.

In a 1994 profile for Connecticut College Magazine, Warren Cohen wrote that Wood’s “calm demeanour and soft voice stand in a contrast to the bellicose caricature of a judge who rules the courtroom with an iron gavel.”

“When I was a lawyer, very good judges tended to be low key and tended to retain a sense of humour but maintained control of the courtroom,” she told Cohen. “When they did, they brought out the best in lawyers and helped the jury understand what was going on. My goal is to find techniques that help do that.”

The writer noted Wood was recognised “as sharp and demanding.”

“She is exceptionally bright, quick to perceive and has tremendous analytical abilities,” Frederick Lacey, a former federal judge who also worked with Wood in private practice, told the publication.

When Wood graduated from Harvard Law School, just 6% of the class was women. Self-described as a “moderate Democrat” in the mid-90s, Wood refrained from discussing a judicial philosophy.

“Judges are not celebrities,” she said. “They speak through their decisions.”

Wood was a notable exception to the stream of conservative judges nominated by Reagan’s White House. Former Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato of New York recommended her for the seat.

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