Trump’s ex-lawyer Cohen testifies in fraud trial against former US president

Showdown in court: In the fraud trial against former US President Donald Trump, his former lawyer Michael Cohen testified as a witness. The former Trump confidant heavily incriminated the Republican present in a court in New York on Tuesday. “I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase total assets based on numbers he arbitrarily picked,” Cohen said.

He and the former CFO of Trump’s real estate empire, Allen Weisselberg, manipulated the assets in order to come up with the numbers that Trump gave them, Cohen said. The lawyer and the ex-president sat in the same courtroom during the questioning, but avoided eye contact, as a journalist from the AFP news agency reported on site.

Trump attacked his former confidant as soon as he arrived at the courthouse. “He’s a liar,” said the 77-year-old Republican, who wants to run again in the 2024 presidential election. “We didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the financial documents.”

Cohen was an important Trump employee for a long time and was responsible for getting the real estate entrepreneur out of problems. He has even been referred to as Trump’s “pit bull.” Cohen later became an opponent of Trump. His testimony before the US Congress in 2019 triggered the investigation into the financial conduct of Trump and his Trump Organization in New York.

In the civil lawsuit, the ex-president is accused of having inflated the assets of his real estate empire over the years in order to get better conditions for loans and insurance. The responsible judge, Arthur Engoron, ruled before the trial began that Trump overstated the assets and thereby committed “fraud”.

The civil case is therefore particularly concerned with the question of how high the punishment will be against Trump and his sons Donald Trump Junior and Eric Trump. The plaintiff Attorney General of New York State, Letitia James, has demanded, among other things, a fine of 250 million dollars (235 million euros). Trump is not threatened with a prison sentence.

Trump, who repeatedly appears at the trial in person, has rejected all allegations and described them as politically motivated. In addition to the civil case, the ex-president has been charged in four criminal cases. Two charges concern the right-wing populist’s attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and thus stay in power.