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Trump’s ex-fixer accuses former boss of asset scheme at fraud trial

By Jake Beardslee · October 24, 2023

In brief…

  • Michael Cohen testified Trump directed inflating assets to increase net worth, get better insurance rates
  • Trump calls Cohen a liar, says he's not worried about testimony in fraud trial
  • Judge previously ruled Trump business committed fraud, now deciding on remaining claims
  • Cohen calls trial "about accountability" after turning on former boss Trump in 2018
  • Bench trial with no jury, Trump not required to attend but claims innocence
Michael Cohen, Trump's ex-lawyer, testified at Trump Organization fraud trial that Trump directed him to inflate assets to increase net worth and get better insurance rates, prompting Trump to dismiss him as a liar.  The Circus/Wikimedia

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer”, testified Tuesday at the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York. Cohen stated that he inflated Trump’s assets to whatever number Trump directed to increase his net worth and get better insurance rates, as reported.

Trump dismissed Cohen as a “proven liar” and said he was “not worried at all” about Cohen’s testimony, telling reporters outside court that they did “nothing wrong”. The trial concerns remaining conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records claims after Judge Arthur Engoron previously ruled Trump and his company committed fraud.

Cohen said “This is about accountability, plain and simple” and that it’s not about disputes between him and Trump, who have not interacted since Cohen turned on his former boss. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to felonies including tax evasion and lying to Congress in the Russia investigation.

Trump continued attacking Cohen Tuesday, calling him “a proven liar, as you know, a felon”. Cohen’s 2019 Congressional testimony about Trump inflating assets led New York Attorney General Letitia James to pursue this fraud case. Prosecutors previously showed a video of Cohen saying Trump wanted higher Forbes rankings so directed inflating assets.

Once fiercely loyal to Trump, Cohen became a critic after 2018. He called Trump a “cheat” and “conman” in a book and has another upcoming book accusing Trump of “weaponizing” the Justice Department. Trump unsuccessfully sued Cohen for defamation before dropping it.

It’s a bench trial with Judge Engoron as sole decider. Trump could face penalties but not prison if found guilty. Trump claims he’s innocent and it’s a “witch-hunt.” Engoron sanctioned Trump for posting about his clerk, warning future violations could bring jail time.