Cohen to testify Trump used $60,000 from charitable organization to pay for self portrait

Cohen to testify Trump used $60,000 from charitable organization to pay for self portrait
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Michael Cohen on Wednesday will testify that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE directed his charitable organization to repay a fake bidder for a portrait of himself, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by The Hill.

The president’s former longtime lawyer and "fixer," who will testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, claims that the portrait now hangs in one of Trump’s country clubs.

“Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event,” Cohen plans to say. “The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon.”

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“The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000,” Cohen will say. “Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.”

A 2013 tweet from Trump appearing to boast about the painting’s high sale price resurfaced on Wednesday after Cohen’s prepared remarks were released.

“Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K,” Trump tweeted in 2013.

That portrait is one of three paintings alleged to have been purchased with Trump Foundation money.

It was previously reported that Trump’s charitable organization, the Trump Foundation, paid $10,000 for an oil portrait of Trump at a 2014 auction after no other bids were made on it. It was also reported in 2016 that Trump used $20,000 of his charity foundation’s funds to buy a painting in 2007.

The Washington Post’s David Farenthold, who has reported extensively on Trump’s finances, on Wednesday said that Cohen’s testimony discusses a 9-foot painting, and the revelation that charity money was used to pay for it is new information.

Farenthold also noted that the alleged payment for the painting was not listed on the foundation’s IRS filings from that year. 

The allegation about the painting is just one of a number of explosive statements that Cohen is prepared to make in his testimony on Wednesday. The longtime lawyer, who was reportedly disbarred this week, will head to prison in early May after pleading guilty to a number of financial crimes committed while working for Trump.

He also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

The president and his current legal team have repeatedly stated that Cohen is a liar and an unreliable witness and that he has turned on the president in an effort to reduce his prison sentence. 

“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud,” Trump tweeted about Cohen earlier Wednesday. “He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”