Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements, from 2011, 2012 and 2013, that he said demonstrate the ways Trump has strategically inflated or deflated his personal assets to game the system. The “statements of financial condition” were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills, Cohen said, and to Forbes when Trump was trying to improve his ranking on its list of wealthiest Americans.
The three exhibited documents show that Trump had on hand between $170 million and $346 million in cash and marketable securities. And as The Washington Post reported, the 2013 statement (exhibit 1c) shows that Trump dramatically increased his own net worth estimate from $4.6 billion to $8.6 billion by claiming that his own personal brand was worth $4 billion — and claiming it as an asset.
Cohen provided images of two news articles as documented examples of his claim that Trump inflated and deflated his assets when it suited the situation.
The first, from the British news organization the Guardian, documents how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on a New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million, far less than the $50 million in assets he listed in the 92-page financial disclosure he released when he was running for president.
The second news article, from Forbes, outlines the way the publication’s estimate of Trump’s net worth starkly differed from his own estimate of his net worth. At the time it was published, in June 2015, Trump claimed he was worth nearly $9 billion. Forbes put him at $4 billion. The difference hinged largely on their different assessments of the worth of Trump’s brand.
Cohen testified that Trump asked him to arrange for a “straw bidder” to purchase a portrait of him up for auction at an ArtHamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day, Cohen said. Cohen said he arranged for a fake bidder, Stewart Rahr, to buy the portrait for $60,000 and later, per Trump’s authorization, repaid Rahr using funds from the Trump Foundation, a charitable organization.
Trump kept the painting for himself, Cohen said.
The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold reported on a similar portrait purchase in 2016.
Exhibits 3a and 3b are clippings from a July 2013 edition of the NY Daily News, and a tweet by Trump on July 16, 2013.
This is what Cohen claims is evidence of the $130,000 payment he made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump. Cohen testified that in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump instructed Cohen to wire money from his personal home equity line of credit to the woman’s attorney so the payment could not be traced back to Trump.
To reimburse Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush payment, Trump wrote personal checks, Cohen said. He testified that the check shown in Exhibit 5a was signed by Trump in August 2017, after he was president. Cohen said that sometimes others, such as Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg, would sign the personal checks. Exhibit 5b is an example, Cohen said.
Cohen called Trump a “con man” during his testimony, citing what he characterized as the president’s attempt to keep his academic record from the public. “When I say con man, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores,” Cohen testified. This is a letter Cohen said Trump asked him to send to the president of Fordham University, which Trump attended for two years.
Cohen attached this news article as evidence of Trump’s hypocrisy. It outlines the way Trump criticized President Barack Obama for not releasing his grades.
In one of the more memorable moments from his testimony, Cohen said that the president had attacked him personally and tried to intimidate him. He cited this tweet thread, in which Trump called Cohen a “Rat.”
“Mr. Trump called me a ‘rat’ for choosing to tell the truth — much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government,” Cohen testified.
Cohen claimed it was evidence that the president was trying to incite violence against him and his family.
At the end of his opening statement, Cohen cited his final exhibit — this tweet from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He thanked her, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) for “defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump.” He also thanks the “many Republicans who have admonished the president as well.”