Michael Cohen's Trump testimony: Financial terms, explained

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, accused the president of various financial indiscretions while testifying before congressional lawmakers on Wednesday.

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Cohen implicated Trump in a slew of misdeeds. He alleged that the president had knowledge of hush money payments he made to cover up an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, directed him to inflate or deflate the purported value of his assets as suited him and pushed him to lie about ongoing negotiations for a Moscow real estate project.

Trump’s former attorney previously pled guilty to lying to Congress and is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May. The president has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and alleges that Cohen is lying about his conduct.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!” Trump said in a tweet Wednesday.

Cohen is set to privately testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. FOX Business breaks down some of the financial terms Cohen mentioned during his public testimony below.

Straw bidder:


An individual who places a bid on an item though unwilling or unable to fulfill the terms.

In prepared testimony, Cohen alleged that Trump told him to find a straw bidder for a portrait of him during an auction at an Art Hamptons Event.

“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. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. 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,” Cohen said.

Hush money:


Payments made to keep information secret.

Trump allegedly directed Cohen to pay Daniels “illegal hush money” just days before the 2016 election.

“He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly - and she did not deserve that,” Cohen said.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC):


A loan that uses property as collateral.

Referring to Trump as a “con man,” Cohen alleged that the president told him to use personal funds from a HELOC to fund a $130,000 wire transfer to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Later, he said, the president used personal checks to repay, in violation of campaign finance law.

“I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later,” Cohen said.

Catch and kill:


A practice of tabloid publications of purchasing rights to a story in order to keep it from going public.

Cohen said he worked with AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, to facilitate “several” catch-and-kill for stories related to Trump.

Inflated/deflated assets:


The misrepresentation of the financial worth of property for personal gain.

Cohen claims that Trump would regularly mislead officials about his net worth and personal holdings in order to gain an advantage during business dealings. The former attorney referenced Trump’s attempt to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in the early 2010s.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.