Trump Lawyers Can’t Call Ex-Fixer Michael Cohen a Perjurer, Judge Says

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s courtroom clash with Michael Cohen escalated Wednesday as the former president labeled his one-time fixer and confidante a “liar” and the disgraced lawyer compared his ex-employer to a “mob boss.”

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Cohen appeared as a key witness for New York state in its $250 million civil fraud trial against Trump. Cohen testified that Trump directed him to inflate his assets by billions of dollars — the central claim in the lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Under questioning by state lawyer Colleen Faherty, Cohen sought to explain why his testimony about inflating assets was different from what he’d told a congressional subcommittee in 2019. Back then, Cohen said Trump hadn’t specifically told him to fabricate numbers. Cohen said Wednesday that Trump made his request without explicitly saying what he wanted.

“Donald Trump speaks like a mob boss when he tells you what to do without specifically saying it,” Cohen testified. “We understood what he wanted.”

Read More: Trump Directed Bogus Asset Inflation, Ex-Fixer Cohen Says

Faherty showed Cohen his 2019 testimony in which he backed his overall assertions Trump had routinely inflated his assets.

“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen testified at the Feb. 27, 2019, hearing.

Trump, who’s running for reelection, blasted Cohen for his conflicting testimony and said the state’s suit should now be dismissed.

“Their only witness and chief witness just admitted he lied,” Trump said after the trial ended for the day. “It was the best television show you can ever imagine, he said I did not ask him to manipulate figures. That should be the end of this case.”

‘Enough Evidence’

The clash between Cohen and the former president’s lawyers culminated with the defense asking the judge to immediately dismiss the case based on Cohen’s testimony. New York Judge Arthur Engoron, who’s presiding over the case, denied the request.

“Absolutely no,” Engoron said. “There’s enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom.”

After Engoron denied the request, Trump shoved back his chair from the defense table and walked out of the courtroom.

Earlier in the day, Trump’s attorneys tried to label Cohen a perjurer because he testified Tuesday that he lied to a federal judge in 2018 when he pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Cohen now says he didn’t commit that crime.

“There is nothing wrong with calling a liar a liar,” Trump lawyer Christopher Kise told Engoron.

But the judge rejected the request, saying, “I believe that perjury implies conviction.”

Cohen’s testimony came during the fourth week of the trial which is expected to last until December.

Read More: Trump Fined $10,000 by Judge Over Second Gag Order Violation

Another Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, focused her questions on Cohen’s 2018 guilty plea before US District Judge William Pauley, which included tax evasion and other charges. He agreed under oath for the first time that he lied to Pauley by admitting his guilt. Cohen says he wasn’t actually guilty of that crime and that his actions amounted merely to tax “omission.”

The trial continues Thursday.

(Updates with late-afternoon testimony beginning in first paragraph.)

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