Donald Trump came face to face with former “fixer” Michael Cohen at the ex-president’s Manhattan fraud trial Tuesday — glowering as Cohen claimed his old boss had him value his assets at “whatever number” Trump wanted.
“He would say, ‘I’m actually not worth $4.5 billion, I’m really worth more like 6 [billion],” Cohen recalled, as Trump faces charges he lied about his bottom line to dupe banks and insurance companies to save money.
The Manhattan Supreme Court showdown marked the first time Cohen, who worked for Trump from 2007 to 2018, was in the same room as the New York City real-estate mogul since being sentenced to three years in prison over campaign-finance violations, tax and bank fraud and lying to Congress.
“Heck of a reunion,” Cohen quipped to a mass of news photographers on his way out of court for the lunch break.
Cohen testified Tuesday that he worked with ex-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg to reverse engineer the values on the ex-president’s financial filings to meet Trump’s desired end totals.
Trump, wearing a dark blue suit and bright blue tie, glared at Cohen with his arms tightly folded across his chest as his ex-personal lawyer testified against him during the third week of the New York attorney general’s $250 million fraud lawsuit that could imperil the 45th president’s Big Apple property empire.
Donald Trump came face to face with former “fixer” Michael Cohen at the ex-president’s Manhattan fraud trial Tuesday.REUTERS
Cohen, who once served as Trump’s special counsel and self-described “fixer,” has consistently admitted committing crimes on behalf of The Donald, the man he once boasted that he would “take a bullet for.”
But Trump’s current personal lawyer, Alina Habba, ripped Cohen during cross-examination, after Cohen tried to distance himself from parts of his previous guilty plea with federal prosecutors in Manhattan’s Southern District.
Cohen testified Tuesday morning that he never made hush money payments himself to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal — while also saying he had “complicity” in paying off Trump’s more well-known alleged lover, former porn star Stormy Daniels.
Cohen said it was American Media Inc, the former owner of the National Enquirer, that arranged the 2016 payment to McDougal to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the then-Republican presidential candidate.
Trump has long denied McDougal’s and Daniels’ claims.
“Heck of a reunion,” Cohen quipped to a mass of news photographers on his way out of court for the lunch break.Steven Hirsch
Cohen also claimed from the stand Tuesday that he has never evaded taxes — despite previously pleading guilty to that charge as well.
“At best, it could be characterized as a tax omission,” Cohen testified. “I have never in my life not paid taxes.”
Cohen replied, “Yes” on the stand when asked by Habba if he lied to federal Judge William H. Pauley III during his 2018 plea hearing.
As the proceeding ended for the day, Trump branded Cohen as a “proven liar” who could not be trusted.
“The witness is already totally discredited,” Trump told reporters on his way out of court.
Here’s how Donald Trump’s NY fraud ruling impacts his businesses
The bombshell court ruling finding Donald Trump liable for fraud left even his own lawyers scratching their heads — asking the judge on Wednesday to clarify his decision canceling the former president’s New York business licenses.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s 34-page ruling from Tuesday would force Trump, 77, to hand over control of his Empire State properties — including Trump Tower in Midtown — to an independent third party, otherwise known as a receiver.
In his ruling, the judge wrote the receiver must be appointed “to manage the dissolution of the cancelled” business certificates for Limited Liability Corporations, or LLCs, under the Trump Organization umbrella.
A Manhattan judge found former President Donald Trump liable for fraud by exaggerating the value of his assets.Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Here’s how the ruling impacts Trump’s businesses, according to legal experts:
What are business certificates and what does it mean to have them revoked?
Business certificates are issued by the state to prove a company’s validity and are used for business transactions.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron canceled Trump’s New York business licenses.REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg
They can be thought of like a birth certificate is for a person, former financial-crimes prosecutor Diana Florence told The Post.
These certificates are required for entities like LLCs and come with privileges such as protecting personal assets if the company goes under, Cornell Law Professor Robert Hockett said.
Hockett said a common but “unsavory business practice” is for a company to pretend they have more money then they really do in order to help them get an LLC certificate.
In this case, an LLC functions like a “shell” meant to “evade accountability.”
“What the judge found yesterday is that Trump is effectively doing this,” Hockett told The Post. “He’s been pretending many of these businesses of his are well capitalized and capable of paying their creditors — in effect doing good work that benefits the public and warrants the certifications of limited liability.”
“They used somebody who is a felon,” he said of prosecutors.
“You all know his record. It’s a horrible one,” the ex-president said during a break earlier in the day. “All you have to do is ask the Southern District of New York.”
Cohen earlier testified that he manipulated the totals on Trump’s financial filings — marking up the document with a red pen — with the help of Weisselberg, who is a co-defendant in the New York attorney general’s civil suit.
US Attorney General counsel Colleen Flaherty asked Cohen to clarify how he and Weisselberg decided what totals to include in the financial filings.
“Whatever number Mr. Trump told us to,” Cohen responded.
Among the assets Cohen said he recalled inflating the value of were Trump Tower in Midtown, Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza, and Trump’s Seven Springs mansion.Steven Hirsch
Among the assets Cohen said he recalled inflating the value of were Trump Tower in Midtown, Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza, and Trump’s Seven Springs mansion.
Cohen testified that he would reach the inflated figures by valuing Trump’s properties like they were other more valuable assets that had such perks as unobstructed views or higher ceiling heights.
“You can call them comparable but that would imply they were similar,” Cohen testified. “So no, they were not comparable — they were just different.”
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