On Tuesday, Michael Cohen, the former lawyer and fixer for former President Donald Trump, appeared in a New York courtroom alongside his former employer.
Cohen appeared at the New York County Supreme Court to testify in a civil trial in which the former president is accused of inflating the worth of his assets in order to secure better business agreements and tax breaks.
During his testimony, Cohen stated that Trump directed him to “increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily selected.”
His and former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg’s role “was to reverse engineer the very different asset classes, increase those assets in order to achieve the numbers” Trump had requested.
Trump, who is not obliged to be there for the trial but arrived within several minutes of Cohen on Tuesday morning, told reporters he is “not worried” about Cohen’s testimony, suggesting Cohen is not a credible witness due to his history of lying under oath.
How Cohen and Trump Find Themselves on Opposing Sides?
Trump and Cohen fell out in 2018 as a result of a federal probe into Cohen’s financial activities and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen pled guilty to a slew of federal crimes in late 2018, including campaign finance violations stemming from hush money payments to two women in return for public quiet about their personal ties with Trump.
Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee in February 2019.
“Mr. Trump is a cheat,” Cohen testified in front of legislators. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
Trump has always maintained that he has done nothing wrong and has constantly accused Cohen of being untrustworthy.
Cohen’s background was also brought up in court. While New York Attorney General Colleen Faherty sought to get it out of the way early in her questioning, Trump attorney Alina Habba dwelled on it during cross-examination, indicating that Cohen had lied under oath several times.
Cohen told reporters before Tuesday’s hearings, “This is not about Donald Trump vs. Michael Cohen or Michael Cohen vs. Donald Trump.” This is about accountability, plain and simple, and we leave all decisions on that to Judge Engoron.”
Before the trial began, New York Judge Arthur Engoron issued an order determining that Trump and his associates, including his sons Eric and Donald Jr., did exaggerate the worth of their properties. The trial will determine whether Trump intentionally plotted to commit fraud and how much he would owe the state in fines if he did.
Cohen’s cross-examination is set to resume on Wednesday. More attorneys, insurers, and Trump staffers will also testify over the week. Trump and his children, Ivanka, as well as co-defendants Donald Jr. and Eric, remain on the witness list.