Four Pieces of Evidence from Michael Cohen Testimony, Ranked by Credibility

Analysis from Associate Blog Editor Alexandra Shiels

Cohen Evidence 1: Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels Payment: Cohen claims first-hand knowledge of hush money payment made to Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels before Election Day to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump. Cohen obtained a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels $130,000 (clearly highlighted in exhibit). He provided oversight committee with a clear signed copy of check dated Aug 1, 2017 from Trump’s personal bank account. The check is allegedly one out of 11 installments from Trump to Chen reimbursing him for using line of credit to pay Daniels. Cohen claimed that Trump directed him to lie and say that Trump had no knowledge of payment to Clifford.




Stormy Daniels Payment: Cohen claims first-hand knowledge of hush money payment made to Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels before Election Day to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump. Cohen obtained a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels $130,000 (clearly highlighted in exhibit). He provided oversight committee with a clear signed copy of check dated Aug 1, 2017 from Trump’s personal bank account. The check is allegedly one out of 11 installments from Trump to Chen reimbursing him for using line of credit to pay Daniels. Cohen claimed that Trump directed him to lie and say that Trump had no knowledge of payment to Clifford.

Credibility rating (1-5)? Solid five. Check is clearly signed, amount is highlighted, and the home equity docs are there to back up. Trump also denied the payment, but hasn’t exactly been vocal on denying the act itself. Unfortunately, we have this very detailed description and Mario Bros’ toadstool is no longer a nostalgic memory of a fun video game for us 90s kids. 

Cohen Evidence 2: Deutche Bank Financial Statements
Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements stating that Trump had “strategically inflated or deflated” his personal assets. The statements were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to improve his Forbes ranking on list of wealthy Americans.
Credibility rating: Hard five. Cohen’s legal team provided multiple, detailed financial statements. Cohen showed committee two news articles that were examples of how Trump would under or overstate his assets when it was convenient. The first article in the Guardian, describes how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million instead of $50 million in assets he listed on financial disclosure he released when running for president. The second article from Forbes demonstrated how their estimate was VERY different from Trump’s estimate of his net worth. Trump claimed he was worth almost $9 billion while Forbes put him around $4 billion. The disparity was due to differing evaluations of worth of Trump’s brand. Cohen Evidence 3: The Straw Bidder
Cohen testified that Trump set up a fake bidder to purchase a portrait of him at an Art Hamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day. The straw bidder, Stewart Rahr, bought the portrait for $60,000 and later the Trump Foundation, a “charitable” organization repaid Rahr using its funds. The WP wrote a similar story in 2016.
Credibility scale: 4.5/5: Remember kids, corruption and fraud are the most common crimes, therefore, the easiest to prove. 


Cohen gave the committee three years of Trump’s financial statements stating that Trump had “strategically inflated or deflated” his personal assets. The statements were given to Deutsche Bank when Trump was asking for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to improve his Forbes ranking on list of wealthy Americans.
Credibility rating: Hard five. Cohen’s legal team provided multiple, detailed financial statements. Cohen showed committee two news articles that were examples of how Trump would under or overstate his assets when it was convenient. The first article in the Guardian, describes how Trump tried to reduce his local taxes on New York golf club by claiming it was actually worth $1.4 million instead of $50 million in assets he listed on financial disclosure he released when running for president. The second article from Forbes demonstrated how their estimate was VERY different from Trump’s estimate of his net worth. Trump claimed he was worth almost $9 billion while Forbes put him around $4 billion. The disparity was due to differing evaluations of worth of Trump’s brand.Cohen Evidence 3: The Straw Bidder
Cohen testified that Trump set up a fake bidder to purchase a portrait of him at an Art Hamptons event. Trump wanted his portrait to be purchased for the highest price of the day. The straw bidder, Stewart Rahr, bought the portrait for $60,000 and later the Trump Foundation, a “charitable” organization repaid Rahr using its funds. The WP wrote a similar story in 2016.
Credibility scale: 4.5/5: Remember kids, corruption and fraud are the most common crimes, therefore, the easiest to prove. 


Cohen Evidence 4: Russian Trump Tower

Cohen was circumspect and did not use the word “collude” in his testimony. However he was very clear that Trump would do anything to win. Cohen stated Trump asked numerous questions about Moscow negotiations and referred to as specific meeting on June 2016 that Donald Trump, Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort attended.
Credibility rating? Put this one at a three, maybe 3.5.  There’s no recording or email threads documenting this meeting (or it’s not being released in C-Span public testimony) . Although likely and the subject of numerous long form articles, more proof is needed. Tragic, because this is one of the most important pieces in case against Trump. 
One of the most important moments of the hearing wasn’t from Michael Cohen, but from Rep Elijah Cummings (D) during his closing remarks. He said: “You come saying I have made my mistakes, but now I want to change my life,” “And you know, if we…as a nation did not give people an opportunity to change their lives, a whole lot of people would not do very well.” Cummings may be able to offer this benediction, but I’m not that forgiving. Am I glad Cohen’s testimony exists? Sure. But let’s not kid ourselves. This is a man who only came forward because he is facing prison time, because he was caught. This is not a crisis of conscious. Cohen enabled a white supremacist, made sure a lot of hard-working people didn’t get paid, and bullied a lot of schools into keeping Trump’s test scores and grades secret.We have just begun to scratch the surface of Dumb Dumb Watergate. We’ve known for a while that the president is corrupt. But will he pay for that corruption? Does this evidence mean anything or is it just financial statements and salacious anecdotes that will just be another aspect of Trump’s terrible presidency that we’re numb to? We have the evidence. We’ve had the evidence, when do we get the conviction? 

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