Former Trump attorney and self-described “fixer” Michael Cohen was set to testify at the former President’s business fraud trial in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Cohen spent a decade in Trump’s inner circle before becoming entangled in his own legal problems. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal crimes and served prison time for his role in the payoff of $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her from talking ahead of the 2016 Presidential Election about an affair she had with Trump, a campaign contribution violation during that election cycle, since it was made in service of the Trump campaign, and $130,000 exceeded the federal limit.
Trump has since been indicted on on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy in the “hush money” case by a grand jury in Manhattan, following an investigation by District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
It was the first of four indictments at both the state and federal level against the former President, who altogether faces a total of 91 criminal counts.
The business fraud trial is the result of a civil lawsuit brought by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
Last month, state Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron issued a summary judgment in the case, agreeing with James’ allegations that Trump and his companies, as well as his two adult sons, had committed more than 200 instances of bank, tax and insurance fraud over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2021.
The summary judgment resolved the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but the other claims remain, including the amount of damages that will be levied. The state Attorney General is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in his home state.
Cohen’s testimony was previewed as critical evidence during the state’s opening statement earlier this month.
In a portion of his deposition, Cohen said that Trump “wanted to be higher on the Forbes list, and he then said ‘I’m actually not worth $6 billion. I’m worth seven. In fact, I think it’s actually now worth eight, with everything that’s going on.'”
Cohen’s deposition went on to say that he and then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg “were tasked with taking the assets, increasing each of those asset classes, in order to accommodate that $8 billion number.”
Weisselberg, who’s also a defendant in James’ lawsuit as well as in Bragg’s criminal prosecution, pleaded guilty in August to 15 felonies and agreed to testify for the prosecution.
Cohen was initially scheduled to testify last week but postponed due to an ongoing medical issue, sparking Trump to tell reporters that his former attorney “didn’t have the guts to testify.”
On social media Monday night, Cohen vowed, “I will continue to speak truth to power…no matter Donald’s continued smear and harassment campaign against me.”
The civil trial could last into December, according to Judge Engoron.