Michael Cohen said during his congressional testimony Wednesday that Donald Trump grossly overstated his wealth before becoming president, including inflating his assets during a failed bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014.
The claim raises questions about whether Trump could face even more legal trouble if, as Cohen said, he misrepresented his worth in applying for a loan to buy the NFL team.
Experts said a criminal case against Trump appears unlikely for several reasons. But Cohen’s latest assertions could affect the court of public opinion at a time when lawmakers are discussing the possibility of impeachment.
Trump was one of three known finalists in the bid to purchase the Bills in the summer of 2014 following the death of franchise founder and Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson. He lost out to the owners of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the Bills for $1.4 billion. The third group was led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
Cohen, once Trump’s lawyer and one of his closest advisers before he pleaded guilty to tax crimes, fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations, testified for hours Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee.
As part of the effort to buy the Bills, Cohen said, Trump gave financial statements to Deutsche Bank in hopes of getting a loan.
The documents, which Cohen provided to the committee, said Trump’s net worth was $4.55 billion in 2012 and soared to $8.66 billion in 2013 because of the addition of a line item for $4 billion worth of “brand value” — essentially the value Trump placed on his name.
Cohen told lawmakers Trump inflated his wealth “when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes,” even as he deflated assets to reduce his real estate taxes.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
He didn’t go into specifics as to how the financial statements provided to Deutsche Bank were inaccurate or offer evidence backing his assertion they were inflated.
Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor, said Cohen is accusing Trump of a crime similar to mortgage fraud, a common offense in which a homebuyer lies about his assets to get a loan.
“What he is laying out is something that is not only criminal but the type of behavior that authorities investigate and prosecute every day,” Levin said. “It’s a bread-and-butter offense.”
If what Cohen said is true, he added, the president could be charged under federal law for wire and mail fraud or under New York state law for what is called “causing a false filing.” Such cases usually involve instances where the borrower gets the loan, but that isn’t required for all prosecutions.