In Legal Confrontation, Michael Cohen Testifies About Inflating Trump’s Asset Valuations at Directive of Former President

by Ethan Kim
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Michael Cohen Testimony

In a highly anticipated legal skirmish that had been years in the making, Michael Cohen, once a close confidant to Donald Trump but now a vocal critic, testified on Tuesday that he manipulated the purported value of Trump’s assets based on figures dictated by the former President.

This marked a tense face-to-face engagement between Trump and Cohen, the disbarred lawyer who once vowed to protect the former President at all costs. Cohen subsequently served a prison sentence and has been a key witness against Trump in multiple forums, ranging from legal proceedings to Congressional hearings.

Cohen is currently a pivotal figure in the lawsuit led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which alleges that Trump and his organization misled banks, insurance companies, and other institutions by providing financial statements that artificially inflated his net worth.

“I was instructed by Mr. Trump to augment the sum total of assets, based on an arbitrary figure that he personally chose,” Cohen said during his testimony. He added that he and Allen Weisselberg, the former financial chief of the Trump Organization, undertook efforts “to retrofit various asset categories to align them with the financial benchmarks set by Mr. Trump.”

When queried about the specifics of these benchmarks, Cohen’s response was, “The numbers were whatever Mr. Trump instructed.”

Trump, who has consistently denied these allegations by Attorney General James, labeled Cohen’s statements as unreliable, coming from “a proven liar” who had previously been convicted for tax evasion, perjury before Congress, and violating campaign finance laws.

“I have no concerns regarding his testimony,” Trump articulated. “His credibility is compromised.”

Trump, who is a leading Republican candidate for the 2024 Presidential election, voluntarily appeared in court for this significant testimony, marking his sixth court appearance this month for the ongoing Manhattan trial. It had been half a decade since Cohen last encountered Trump in person.

“This isn’t a personal vendetta between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen, or vice versa,” Cohen emphasized during a court recess. “This is fundamentally about accountability.”

Throughout the proceedings, Trump was observed to consult in whispers with his legal team, at times leaning forward attentively or crossing his arms in a relaxed posture.

Cohen testified that Trump would call him and Weisselberg into meetings and make proclamations such as, “My actual net worth isn’t $4.5 billion, it’s closer to $6 billion.” Cohen said he and Weisselberg would then artificially elevate the valuations of Trump’s properties, using inflated comparables.

Cohen’s testimony also drew reactions from Trump, especially when he claimed that Weisselberg had consultations with Donald Trump Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump prior to finalizing the financial statements. Both sons are co-defendants in the lawsuit, while an appeals court dismissed Ivanka Trump from the case in June.

Judge Arthur Engoron has already issued a ruling that fraud was committed by Trump and his organization. The ongoing trial aims to resolve outstanding charges including conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records.

Trump continues to argue that his assets have been undervalued and dismisses the lawsuit as politically motivated, terming it “a sham” and “the extension of the greatest witch hunt ever.”

Michael Cohen had previously served a decade as Trump’s personal attorney before a federal investigation led to their falling out in 2018. He is also a significant witness in another criminal case against Trump related to hush-money payments, set for trial next spring.

Earlier this month, Trump temporarily suspended a $500 million lawsuit against Cohen, which accused him of reputational damage and breaching a confidentiality agreement.

William Kelly, an attorney representing Trump’s former accounting firm, Mazars USA, took the stand after Cohen. Last year, the firm severed its relationship with Trump following questions about the reliability of his financial statements raised by James’ lawsuit.

Kelly stated that the decision to discontinue their professional association with Trump was predicated upon the allegations raised by the Attorney General and internal investigations revealing compromised financial statements from Weisselberg.

In response to this, defense attorney Jesus M. Suarez suggested that Mazars had severed ties to gain favor with the Attorney General and preempt legal complications. Kelly denied this, stating that the firm acted as a “responsible corporate citizen.”

Trump’s legal team attempted to postpone the trial, citing concerns of COVID-19 cases in the Attorney General’s office. However, the Attorney General’s office assured that all health guidelines were adhered to. Trump later criticized the COVID-19 protocols in the courtroom, although he and his attorneys chose not to wear masks.

Contributions by Big Big News writer Michael R. Sisak.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Michael Cohen Testimony

What is the main subject of this text?

The main subject of this text is Michael Cohen’s testimony in a legal battle, where he reveals that he inflated Donald Trump’s asset valuations based on Trump’s instructions.

Who is Michael Cohen, and why is his testimony significant?

Michael Cohen is a former personal attorney to Donald Trump who later became a vocal critic. His testimony is significant because it sheds light on how he manipulated the valuations of Trump’s assets as part of a legal dispute led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

What is the lawsuit mentioned in the text?

The lawsuit, spearheaded by Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that Donald Trump and his company provided misleading financial statements to banks and insurers, artificially inflating Trump’s wealth.

What were the key points of Michael Cohen’s testimony?

Michael Cohen testified that he was tasked by Trump to increase the reported value of Trump’s assets to arbitrary numbers dictated by the former President. Cohen and Allen Weisselberg, former Trump Organization finance chief, were involved in this effort.

How did Donald Trump respond to Michael Cohen’s testimony?


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