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Michael Cohen says fraud trial Trump’s ‘biggest fear’ and could prove to be ‘financial catastrophe’

‘I’m going to Court tomorrow morning to fight for my name and reputation,’ Trump says

Vishwam Sankaran
Monday 02 October 2023 06:29 BST
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Related video: Civil fraud trial against Donald Trump set to begin in New York

Donald Trump’s ex-attorney Michael Cohen said on Sunday that a New York civil fraud trial was the former US president’s “biggest fear” that could deal a “deathblow” to his businesses.

Speaking to MSNBC host Jen Psaki about the ex-president’s New York civil fraud trial, Mr Cohen explained how the ruling could be a “financial catastrophe” and a “deathblow to Donald”.

“I can tell you this has always been his biggest fear. That he would lose all of his money and he would no longer be considered the mega-billionare that he tried to portray himself as,” Mr Trump’s former personal attorney said in the interview.

The new trial, as observers have pointed out, comes with high stakes for the former president, who is running in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is seeking $250m in penalties and a ban on Mr Trump doing business in the state.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the non-jury trial, made the fraud ruling last week that Mr Trump routinely deceived banks, insurers and others.

Mr Engoron said the former president exaggerated the value of assets on the paperwork which was used to make deals and secure loans.

For instance, among some of the allegations were that the Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan was claimed to be nearly three times its actual size and worth.

However, Mr Trump has maintained his innocence in the case, and his legal team is reportedly planning to appeal the judge’s decision.

If the ruling was upheld on appeal, is expected to shift control of some of Mr Trump’s companies to a court-appointed receiver.

It could also force the ex-president to give up prized New York properties like Trump Tower, golf courses and a Wall Street office building, the Associated Press reported.

Legal experts have called the ruling a “a corporate death penalty.”

Mr Trump, however, accused the judge Engoron of being “unfair, unhinged, and vicious” in his “PURSUIT of me”.

“I’m going to Court tomorrow morning to fight for my name and reputation,” he wrote on his social media platform Truth Social.

Mr Cohen was Mr Trump’s personal attorney for years and at one point so loyal to the ex-president that he pledged to “take a bullet” for him, but however turned against his former employer after pleading guilty in 2018 to tax charges.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Inside with Jen Psaki show, Mr Cohen ruling explained that the new ruling could be a “financial catastrophe” for Mr Trump that could see him likely lose “more than just several” of his businesses.

“Once he loses the license within which to operate the good standing of the certificates of incorporation that make up what’s called the Trump Corporation, not only is the main company now going into the receivership,” he said.

“But there are hundreds of other subsidiary companies that additionally will ultimately go as part of the receivership. It is a financial catastrophe. It is the death blow to Donald,” Mr Cohen added.

The former president took to his platform Truth Social, calling the “whole case” a “sham”.

“See you in Court – Monday morning,” he said.

With control over some of his prized properties on the stake, Mr Trump could make a rare trip to court Monday for the start of a civil trial, but it remains to be seen if he will show up.

“Knowing Donald the way I do, I would say that there’s less than a 20 per cent chance that he actually shows up,” Mr Cohen said in the interview.

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