Cohen testimony: Donald Trump inflated net worth by $4bn when trying to buy Buffalo Bills NFL team

Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth to try and secure a loan from Deutsche Bank that would have funded his purchase of the Buffalo Bills, his former lawyer Michael Cohen has claimed in testimony before Congress.

The 45th president of the United States was one of a number of bidders for the NFL franchise, based in western New York state, when they came up for sale in 2014.

After Bills founder Ralph Wilson died in March 2014, aged 95, his family put the team up for sale and New York real estate magnate Trump, who had previously enjoyed unsuccessful flirtations with American football in the shape of the defunct USFL start-up, entered the bidding alongside the likes of rock star Jon Bon Jovi and energy tycoon Terry Pegula.

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Trump would eventually lose out to Pegula but not through a lack of effort, and Cohen revealed as part of his Congressional testimony exactly how desperate Trump was to win the bid. 

Cohen submitted three years of Trump’s financial statements which were sent to Deutsche Bank in 2014 as part of the loan application, and in which the third year saw Trump’s net worth nearly double to $8.6bn. 


Racist. Conman. Cheat. The biggest revelations from Cohen’s testimony





1/7 Trump made me threaten his high school

2/7 Trump reimbursed me for the hush money

3/7 Trump directed the Trump Moscow negotiations

4/7 Trump is a racist

5/7 Trump knew about the Wikileaks hacks

6/7 Nothing went on that Trump wasn’t aware of

7/7 Trump did not provide evidence for why he avoided the Vietnam draft

1/7 Trump made me threaten his high school

2/7 Trump reimbursed me for the hush money

3/7 Trump directed the Trump Moscow negotiations

4/7 Trump is a racist

5/7 Trump knew about the Wikileaks hacks

6/7 Nothing went on that Trump wasn’t aware of

7/7 Trump did not provide evidence for why he avoided the Vietnam draft

The president’s former lawyer alleges that Trump kept two sets of books – one which he used to appear as wealthy as possible, and another to pay less tax on his assets – and that the adjustment in his net worth was an ego move as well as one made with the intention of securing funding to become an NFL owner.

“It was my experience that Mr Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” said Mr Cohen on Wednesday, “such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes.”

“And he deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

The documents show that Trump added $4bn to his assets labelled simply as ‘brand value’.

In 2015, Trump told Sports Illustrated that he had made a cash-only bid for the NFL franchise: “I bid a billion dollars, all cash on the table,” he said. 

“He bought it for a billion-two, I believe, although they say it was a billion-four. I think he got it for a billion‑two.”

Trump has long waged war against the NFL, most notably during his involvement with the USFL but more recently with Colin Kaepernick. 

The USFL’s collapse is often blamed on Trump’s insistence that the league move from spring to autumn in order to take on the NFL – a battle it would ultimately lose – or force a merger. 

Trump’s focus on Kaepernick came after the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback knelt for the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. 

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