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Michael Cohen: Trump taxes would reveal 'wealth is not as significant' as he says

Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenPress: Trump's biggest fear is — lock him up Biden faces politically thorny decision on Trump prosecutions New York expands Trump tax fraud investigations to include write-offs: report MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE’s former personal attorney, said in an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday that Trump has refused to release his tax returns to avoid a “massive tax bill” and “fraud penalties.” 

Camerota asked Cohen, who appeared on the network to promote his new memoir, “Disloyal,” if the lawyer was aware of any information in Trump’s tax returns that the commander in chief “didn’t want to reveal.” 

“Yeah, 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 responded. 

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He added that he believes Trump’s “biggest fear is that if his tax return is released, that 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.”

Trump has repeatedly resisted calls to release his tax returns. Releasing tax returns has become a common practice among presidential candidates for decades. Democrats have called on Trump to release the documents to learn about any conflicts of interest the president may have. 

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Trump has cited an IRS audit as the reason why he has yet to release his tax returns to the public, telling The Economist in May 2017 that he "might release them” after he leaves office. The IRS has said, though, that an audit does not prevent a person from releasing tax returns.

Cohen previously cast doubt on this explanation from the president, with the attorney saying in a 2019 congressional hearing that he believes Trump is “not under audit.” 

"I asked for a copy of the audit so that I could use it in terms of my statements to the press, and I was never able to obtain one," Cohen said during his testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Cohen’s new book, which debuted at No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list last week, came less than four months after Cohen was released from federal prison due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, he was sentenced to three years on charges of campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.