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Trump's "inflated" wealth: $ 4 billion in "brand value," says Cohen

In 2013, a few months before Donald J. Trump contacted Deutsche Bank for a loan to purchase the Buffalo Bills, a mysterious new asset was included in his financial statements.

It was not a new hotel, an office tower or a golf course. That was the "brand value" – $ 4 billion, according to Mr. Trump's account.

The Deutsche Bank episode, along with Trump's staggering claim for new wealth, came on Wednesday when his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, testified before the House's oversight committee. Mr. Cohen provided three-year financial statements. "I think these figures are inflated," he commented curtly.

Without ever saying it, Mr. Cohen traced the practice of the myth that lasted all life and that Mr. Trump finally drove to the White House – magically increasing the value of his business empire to create and maintain Donald's brand. J. Trump billionaire.

The creation of this myth began when, as a young man, Mr. Trump falsely claimed to own the real estate empire still owned by his father, the legendary builder Fred C. Trump. It has continued throughout the opening sequence "The Apprentice" and continues on the track of the campaign in 2015.

The first public record of Mr. Trump's financial exaggerations was published in 1976, when Mr. Trump, just a few years after graduating from high school, he's boasted to a Times reporter that he's already worth "over $ 200 million."

To support this fantastic claim, Mr. Trump has claimed various buildings and projects in the New York area. In truth, his father owned everything.

Years later, it appeared in a public deposit that his taxable income in 1976 was only $ 24,594.

In the 1980s, instead of appropriating the wealth of his father, he quickly reduced the considerable achievements of his father. He always made Fred Trump a behind-the-scenes cheerleader who ran a modest collection of apartment buildings outside the neighborhood. Mr. Trump never mentioned the considerable wealth of his father, nor the financial support that made his golden life possible. He claimed to have only got a $ 1 million loan from his father – and to have repaid it with interest.

"He was a solid guy and a brilliant man and I learned a lot from my father. In terms of support, it was the first thing my father gave me, "he told American animator David Letterman in 1987, strangely reminiscent of his father, who had died before 1999, in the past.

For years, Mr. Trump provided unaudited financial statements attesting to his wealth, both to journalists and to banks seeking a loan. (The deal for the Bills never materialized.) In a 2007 statement, he said that values ​​could even fluctuate based on his "feelings" and compared real estate valuations to political trends. .

"I'm no different from a politician who is running for office," he said. "You always want to put the best foot possible."

The documents that Mr. Cohen presented to Congress show dollar amounts that oscillate more than Mr. Trump's eclectic signature. In the 2013 report, for example, the liquidity and marketable securities category more than doubled, reaching $ 346 million over the previous year, even though a note stated that Mr. Trump repaid a number of liabilities. That year, its declared net worth was $ 8.66 billion, up from $ 5 billion a year earlier.

Mr Cohen said he often presented these financial statements to reporters of publications such as Forbes so that Mr Trump would be included on the list of the richest Americans.

Last year, Jonathan Greenberg, a former Forbes reporter, told in The Washington Post, which in the 1980s, long before Mr. Cohen intervened, told him to pretend to be John Barron, a so-called spokesman for Donald Trump, to be on the list of the richest Americans in the magazine.

Behind the scenes, however, when paying taxes, Mr. Trump helped to lower the value of his family's assets.

In 1995, for example, Donald Trump and his three brothers and sisters claimed in The Times' confidential tax records that his father's properties, including 25 apartment complexes, were worth only $ 41.4 million. They claimed that two rental properties in Trump Village, Coney Island, had a negative value of $ 5.9 million. The maneuver spared the family from paying millions of dollars in gift and estate taxes. The real value of these assets was revealed in 2004 when banks valued it at nearly $ 900 million.

The tax experts told The Times that these types of maneuvers were legally questionable.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat in New York, questioned Mr. Cohen about the tax schemes described in The Times' investigation at Wednesday's hearing. Mr Cohen replied that these actions took place before he arrived at the Trump Organization.

Republican members of the House of Representatives' Monitoring and Reform Committee, as well as the White House, have repeatedly tried to discredit Wednesday Mr Cohen, pointing out that he pleaded guilty to financial crimes and was lying in Congress.

The true wealth and complications of Mr. Trump would be much better understood if he had followed the tradition of several decades of presidential candidates who published their tax returns.

Mr. Cohen was asked to question the veracity of Mr. Trump's assertion that he could not disclose the statements because he was subject to an audit. Mr. Cohen said the opposite: Mr. Trump was concerned that the publication of his statements would lead to verification and possible sanctions.

"What he did not want was a whole group of think tanks made up of tax experts to check his tax return and start shredding it, and then he will end up in an audit," said Mr. Cohen.

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