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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley grill Michael Cohen on Trump



Freshman Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib concluded the Democrats’ questioning of President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, at the House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Ocasio-Cortez helped build a case for House Democrats to subpoena new individuals and the president’s tax returns in their investigations of Trump’s alleged wrongdoing.

In response to the Ocasio-Cortez’s questioning, Cohen said that Trump would regularly deflate the value of his assets for tax purposes, and inflate their value for insurance purposes.

“Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.

“Yes, and you’d find it at the Trump Org,” Cohen said, referring to the Trump Organization.

Ocasio-Cortez next brought up an August 2016 Washington Post report that laid out evidence Trump dramatically undervalued his Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, in statements to tax officials. Trump publicly boasted that the club was worth $50 million, but his attorney repeatedly told a court that the same club was worth “no more than $5 million,” The Post reported.

“Mr. Cohen, do you know whether this specific report is accurate?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.

“It’s identical to what he did at Trump National Golf Club at Briarcliff Manor,” Cohen replied.

Cohen went on to say that Trump and his lawyers would “deflate the value of the asset and then … put in a request to the tax department for a deduction” in order to reduce the president’s tax bills.

In response to more of Ocasio-Cortez’s questions, Cohen said he didn’t have personal knowledge of Trump’s alleged scheme to undervalue real estate that he inherited from his parents by hundreds of millions of dollars in order to pay fewer taxes. But he repeatedly told lawmakers that the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, would have the answer to many of their questions.

Pressley followed Ocasio-Cortez in questioning Cohen, and focused specifically on the president’s alleged improper use of his charitable foundation. Through Pressley’s questioning, Cohen elaborated on his claim that Trump use $60,000 from his foundation to pay for a “straw bidder” to purchase a portrait of Trump at an auction.

Cohen told Pressley Trump’s portrait scheme was “all about ego.”

Tlaib was given her five minutes of questioning time next and spent most of it delivering remarks on how she and her Michigan constituents “don’t need a collusion cause with a foreign government to know this president, individual one, has disregarded the law of the land.”

She ended by echoing some of her other colleagues who earlier criticized GOP Rep. Mark Meadows for using Lynne Patton, an African American Trump administration official who is close to the president, to make the case the president isn’t racist.

Tlaib went further than her colleagues, and suggested that Meadows’ use of Patton was racist in and of itself. Tlaib’s comments sparked a heated back-and-forth between her and Meadows, forcing committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to intervene.

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