Donald Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen, a convicted felon, said Wednesday that he believes the primary reason the president has fought tooth-and-nail to keep his tax returns away from investigators in Congress and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is that the documents may lead to criminal tax fraud charges.
In an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Cohen said he believed the president’s stonewalling was, at best, an effort to avoid paying a “massive tax bill,” and at worst, an attempt to skirt “fraud penalties.”
“The fact that he doesn’t report the income that he claims, his wealth is not as significant, and I believe that they were probably very lenient in how they took deductions,” Cohen said. “His biggest fear is that if in fact the tax return was released, there’s a whole slew of organizations, of accountants and forensic accountants that will rip through it and he will end up with a massive tax bill, fraud penalties, fines, and possibly even tax fraud.”
Cohen, a former vice president of the Trump Organization, pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators in Nov. 2018; he was sentenced to three years in prison back in Dec. 2018 for campaign finance violations, bank fraud and tax evasion. Cohen famously said in court that then-candidate Trump (“Individual-1”) “directed him” to make the hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal ahead of the 2016 election.
Cohen secured his release from an Otisville, New York federal prison in May due to COVID-19 concerns, allowing him to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. But that hit an awkward snag in July when Cohen was re-arrested due to his tell-all book about the president. Cohen was released again weeks later.
Earlier in September, the disbarred attorney released Disloyal: The True Story of Michael Cohen, Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump, which contained first-hand accounts of the president’s “graphic and unflattering” behavior behind closed doors.
After discussing the president’s tax returns, Camerota asked Cohen if he had any thoughts on who he believes is filling his former role as President Trump’s “new fixer.”
“Attorney General Bill Barr,” Cohen responded. “Rudy Giuliani, to an outside extent, but I would say for the most part it would be Attorney General Bill Barr. And boy, what a terrible shame, taking an illustrious career and throwing it right down the toilet.”
[Image via CNN/YouTube screengrab]
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