On Wednesday, when New York Attorney General Letitia James announced her $250m civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, she specifically cited former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony in 2019 where he revealed that the former president fraudulently inflated the value of his assets.
“I will remind everyone that this investigation only started after Michael Cohen, the former lawyer, his former lawyer tested before Congress shed light on this misconduct,” she said.
The question that triggered Mr Cohen’s response came in 2019 from Ms James’s fellow New Yorker, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In 2019, Mr Cohen testified against his former before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. At the time, Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who the previous year had beaten former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley in a primary in New York’s 14th District, asked questions about whether Mr Trump ever provided inflated assets to an insurance company.
“Yes,” Mr. Cohen said in response. When Ms Ocasio-Cortez asked who else knew that Mr Trump did this, he said “Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari.”
The lawsuit also named Mr Lieberman, the former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization. Specifically, he said that Mr Weisselberg helped Mr Trump make fraudulent statements of financial condition regarding his properties.
“Mr Trump made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on his statements to increase every year, and the statements were the vehicle by which his net worth was fraudulently inflated by billions of dollars year after year,” Ms James’s office said in a statement.
“And where would the committee find more information on this, do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns,” she said.
“Yes, and you’d find it at the Trump Org,” Mr Cohen said.
The lawsuit alleges that Mr Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth by millions of dollars so that banks could lend him and his businesses money on more favorable terms that would otherwise not be available.