Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Wednesday asked President Trump's onetime personal attorney Michael Cohen if Trump had intentionally devalued his real estate assets to reduce his tax bills, to which Cohen responded, "Yes."
Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the House Oversight Committee, sought to lay the groundwork for lawmakers to potentially subpoena employees of the Trump Organization -- including its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, who Cohen said was privy to Trump's various money maneuvers and who received immunity from federal prosecutors in New York to testify against Cohen prior to the attorney's guilty plea on federal campaign finance violations last August.
"What you do is, you deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction," said Cohen when Ocasio-Cortez asked how Trump attempted to reduce his tax burden.
"And would it help for the committee to obtain federal and state tax returns from the president and his company to address that discrepancy?" Ocasio-Cortez asked.
"I believe so," Cohen answered.
The freshman congresswoman cited an August 2016 Washington Post report. That report claimed Trump had argued that his golf course in Jupiter, Florida. was worth "no more than $5 million" for tax purposes despite informally valuing the property at more than $50 million. When asked if the report was true, Cohen said that Trump had used an "identical" tactic at his golf club in suburban Westchester County, New York.
In response to questioning from another lawmaker, Cohen said that he had seen Trump's tax returns, but has not gone through them. Trump broke with decades of tradition for presidential candidates by refusing to release his income tax filings during his 2016 campaign. He has said he won't release them because he is being audited, but Cohen said he never received any documentation to support Trump's claim.
Cohen also said that CFO Weisselberg would be best placed to confirm a bombshell New York Times report from October 2018 that Trump and his siblings set up a phony corporation in the 1990s to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents. The report also stated that Trump helped his father take millions in improper tax deductions and formulated a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings to cut the tax bill when the properties were transferred.
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.