Updated Oct 24, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Michael Cohen testifies against Trump in N.Y. civil fraud trial

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a break in his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, 2023 in New York City.

Former President Trump speaks to the media during a break in his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on Oct. 24 in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former President Trump returned Tuesday to the Manhattan courthouse for his ongoing civil fraud trial, bringing him face-to-face with his onetime personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Driving the news: Cohen testified Tuesday that he falsified the values the ex-president's assets to match "whatever number Mr. Trump told us," per Reuters.

  • "He would say, 'I'm actually not worth $4.5 billion, I'm really worth more like 6 [billion]," Cohen said.
  • He also said that Trump would arbitrarily come up with net worth estimations — and that he and the Trump Organization's former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, would reflect those figures on financial statements, NBC News reported.

The big picture: Cohen is a key witness in New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million lawsuit alleging that Trump, his eldest children and the Trump Organization committed years of financial fraud.

  • Cohen, a fervent Trump critic, was originally set to testify last week, but postponed it due to a "pre-existing medical condition."
  • Tuesday was the first time that Cohen and Trump were face-to-face in five years.

Zoom in: Cohen told reporters before his testimony that he was "looking forward" to seeing his former boss in court, per ABC News. "It's been five years since we've been in the same room," he said Tuesday morning.

  • Trump told reporters outside the courtroom before the hearing that Cohen is a "proven liar."
  • Cohen on Tuesday answered questions about crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2018 including tax crimes, campaign violations and lying to Congress.
  • During the break, Trump said he was "not worried at all" about Cohen's testimony, per CNN.

Flashback: James launched her probe into Trump's business empire after Cohen testified to Congress that the former president inflated the value of his assets for insurance purposes and deflated them to get tax deductions.

State of play: Trump, who has made his web of legal woes central to his 2024 presidential campaign, has repeatedly turned up at the Manhattan courthouse, seizing on the news cameras stationed outside to deride the trial.

Go deeper: Trump files to dismiss lawsuit against former lawyer Michael Cohen

Axios' April Rubin contributed reporting.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say that AG James' suit against Trump is for $250 million, not $250. It was also updated with developments from Tuesday's hearing.

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