In a dramatic courtroom showdown, former U.S. President Donald Trump and his estranged lawyer, Michael Cohen, confronted each other once more in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday. This time, it was Trump facing a civil fraud trial over his family’s real estate company’s business practices. Cohen, who cut ties with Trump five years ago, faced rigorous cross-examination as Trump’s legal team sought to challenge his credibility.
Cohen’s testimony on Tuesday was a pivotal moment in the trial, as he claimed that Trump had “arbitrarily” inflated the value of the Trump Organization’s real estate assets to secure favorable insurance premiums. He went further to admit that he had doctored financial statements to align with the figures provided by Mr. Trump.
Cohen’s insider testimony may bolster the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who argues that Trump, his company, and several of its executives deliberately inflated property values. The outcome of the trial could have far-reaching implications for Trump’s business empire.
Donald Trump, currently the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has consistently denied any wrongdoing and staunchly defended the valuations of his properties. He has characterized the case as a “fraud” and a political witch hunt. Throughout the proceedings, Trump and his legal team have consistently labeled Michael Cohen as a “liar” and are expected to use his history of deceit to undermine his testimony.
In 2018, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation and lying to Congress regarding Trump’s business dealings in Russia, actions he testified on Tuesday he took at the former president’s direction. During a half-hour cross-examination on Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, questioned Cohen about his guilty plea to paint him as a convicted felon and habitual liar.
Before the trial officially commenced on October 2, Justice Arthur Engoron had ruled that Trump fraudulently inflated his net worth. Additionally, Engoron ordered the dissolution of companies controlling some of Trump’s most valuable real estate assets, including Trump Tower in Manhattan. It’s worth noting that this ruling is currently on hold as Trump pursues an appeal.
The primary focus of the trial pertains to damages, with New York Attorney General Letitia James seeking at least $250 million in fines. Furthermore, she aims to secure a permanent ban against Donald Trump and his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, from operating businesses in New York. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.
Justice Engoron made headlines last week when he fined Donald Trump $5,000 for violating a gag order during the trial, further adding to the intense drama surrounding the proceedings.
As the trial unfolds, all eyes are on the courtroom, where the legal battle between the former president and his estranged lawyer continues to captivate the nation’s attention.