Congress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the prowl for Trump’s tax returns

New York Democrat grills president’s former personal lawyer about financial documents

From left, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listen to testimony by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, at House Oversight and Reform Committee Wednesday.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used her first marquee hearing appearance to help Democrats lay down legal ground work to pursue President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

The New York Democrat grilled the president’s former personal lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, on Wednesday on how Trump simultaneously inflated the value of his assets on financial statements in order to apply for substantial bank loans and deflated the value of those same assets in order to receive tax breaks.

“Did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?” Ocasio-Cortez asked Cohen, who delivered public congressional testimony on Wednesday for the first and only time before he begins his three-year prison sentence in May.

Cohen replied that, yes, Trump had directed his deputies to inflate his assets to insurance companies and a host of other entities whenever it suited his financial or marketing interests.

Watch: What you missed from Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony

Ocasio-Cortez then asked Cohen where the committee could find more information to verify these claims.

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

“Yes,” Cohen replied.

Cohen provided three of Trump's financial statements from 2011, 2012, and 2013 that listed his assets, liabilities, and net worth.

Oversight Committee Democrats said the statements Cohen provided contained numbers that looked dubious.

“If you saw those financial statements, they look a little weird to me,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said after the hearing.

The Illinois Democrat said the “nice round numbers” that were assigned to different line items on the statements raised questions about their accuracy.

“We don’t have any information about his personal finances aside from his campaign disclosures and his presidential disclosures. Getting that type of information and people who might know more about it would be a good place to start potentially,” said Krishnamoorthi, who as one of two Democrats on both the Oversight and Intelligence Committees, will see Cohen again tomorrow when he testifies again Friday behind closed doors with the latter.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts said Tuesday that his staff would be paying close attention to Cohen’s testimony Wednesday. His office could not immediately be reached for a follow-up comment on how Cohen’s testimony could impact their case to obtain Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department moving forward.

Republicans on the committee panned the hearing as an affront to the panel’s dignity since Cohen already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017.

Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts indicated that the Oversight Committee will be sending transcripts of Cohen’s testimony and the documents he produced over to the Ways and Means Committee as it builds its legal case to pursue Trump’s tax returns through the Treasury Department.

Watch: Cohen’s entire opening statement

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