nzherald: During Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Congressman William Lacy Clay, D, asked Cohen to explain how President Donald Trump approached estimates of his net worth before the 2016 campaign.
“To your knowledge,” Clay asked, “did the President or his company ever inflate assets or revenues?”
“Yes,” Cohen replied.
“Was that done with the President’s knowledge or direction?” Clay asked.
“Everything was done with the knowledge and at the direction of Mr Trump,” Cohen responded.
Why would he do it? Clay asked, to which Cohen stated, in essence: It depends.
Sometimes, he said, it was to influence Forbes’ list of America’s wealthiest individuals. But he also provided a potentially more problematic example when pressed by Clay.
Cohen came prepared with evidence. He introduced into evidence three documents providing a summary of Trump’s net worth in June 2011, June 2012 and March 2013. Over the course of those documents, the worth of Trump’s assets went from US$4.6 billion to US$5 billion to . . . US$9.2 billion — an increase of US$4.2 billion over the course of nine months.
How’d that increase occur? Suddenly in 2013, Trump’s net worth included a “brand value” of US$4 billion. When he announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2015, he provided a document from 2014 that identified his “licensing deals and brand value” as being worth US$3.3 billion. Given that “licensing deals” were about US$100 million in 2011 and 2012, that would put his 2014 assessment of his brand value at about US$3.2 billion.
For the most part, other sections of his net worth didn’t change much. In 2011 and 2012, he listed his commercial and residential properties individually, later lumping them all together — thereby making it harder to evaluate his estimates. The worth of his club facilities and other partially owned properties climbed. The value of properties under development, apparently identified as “Mansion at Seven Springs” in 2012 remained fairly constant. How that surge in brand value was validated isn’t clear.
Michael Cohen: “Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft. Mr. Trump claimed it was b/c of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none & said that there was no surgery.” https://t.co/TBESxp66tz pic.twitter.com/slz6goKkck
— The Hill (@thehill) February 27, 2019
It’s pretty lame how House Republicans keep tagging in Jordan and Meadows to ask questions for them. They aren’t capable of doing it on their own?
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
Cohen: Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow edited my false statement to Congress https://t.co/87u8SQCiDR
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) February 27, 2019
Clay asked Cohen if he thought the financial documents that were provided included inflated numbers. Cohen said that he believed they did. Looking at the chart above, it’s hard to see how one might argue against that, even setting aside that Forbes figured that his net worth in 2014 was less than half what Trump presented. Its estimate was US$4.1 billion — about US$1 billion less than Trump’s net worth would be without including his “brand value.”
“Did the President ever provide inflated assets to a bank in order to obtain a loan?” Clay then asked Cohen.
“These documents and others were provided to Deutsche Bank on one occasion where I was with them,” Cohen said, “in our attempt to obtain money so that we can put a bid on the Buffalo Bills.”
While Cohen’s wording was carefully chosen, the implication is clear: Trump may have tried to seek a loan using inaccurate information.
Ironically, Cohen pleaded guilty in August to making a false statement to a financial institution.
The Bills deal would have been in 2014, when Trump was lobbying publicly for ownership of the team. It was eventually sold to fellow billionaire Terry Pegula.
It’s not clear how much Pegula’s brand is worth.
— CNN (@CNN) February 27, 2019
Republicans James Comer, Paul Gosar and Virginia Foxx all yielded parts of their time to Jim Jordan today, allowing the ranking member to lay into Michael Cohen on a variety of topics.
— POLITICO (@politico) February 27, 2019