Did Trump Play a Role In Alleged Fraud Scheme?

Former President Donald Trump sits in court during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 25 in New York City.

What Role Did Trump Play In Alleged Fraud Scheme? Here’s What Trial Has Revealed So Far.


Former President Donald Trump’s onetime “fixer” Michael Cohen made explosive claims on the stand this week as he implicated his former boss in an alleged fraud scheme to change valuations on financial documents for personal gain, as several witnesses in the ongoing civil trial against Trump and his business empire have tied the ex-president to alleged fraud.

Key Facts

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump, his business associates—including his sons—and the Trump Organization for allegedly fraudulently misstating the value of their assets on financial statements to obtain more favorable business deals and boost Trump’s net worth.

Cohen, Trump’s onetime attorney-turned-critic, directly implicated Trump in the scheme, testifying Tuesday that the ex-president would direct him and then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to change valuations to get Trump’s net worth to whatever arbitrary number he wanted it to be—which would then be used for purposes like obtaining loans and better insurance deals.

Trump would call Cohen into his office to discuss his asset numbers—saying, “I’m not worth 4.5 billion, I’m really worth more like 6”—Cohen testified, and order Cohen and Weisselberg to go back to Weisselberg’s office to change the numbers “and return after we had achieved the desired goal.”

Cryptocurrency Trial Testimonies Await

The attorney—who turned against Trump after pleading guilty in 2018 to criminal charges, some stemming from his work with the former president—testified Wednesday Trump never told him directly, “Michael, go inflate the numbers,” but rather “speaks like a mob boss” and “tells you what he wants without specifically telling you.”
Cohen’s statements marked the most overt witness testimony tying Trump to the scheme, but Weisselberg testified on October 10 that he would give Trump statements of financial conditions—the documents that contained allegedly fraudulent numbers—to review until he became president, and Trump would “periodically” make comments on them, after Weisselberg previously claimed he did not recall ever discussing the statements with the ex-president.

Crucial Quote

“I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based on a number he arbitrarily elected and my responsibility, along with Allen Weisselberg, predominantly was to reverse engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump had tasked us,” Cohen testified Tuesday. When asked what he meant by “achieve the number,” Cohen responded, “Whatever number Mr. Trump told us” for his desired net worth.

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