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Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns

Published Sep 17th, 2020 5:33PM EDT
Donald Trump
Image: Chris Kleponis - Pool via CNP/MEGA
  • Donald Trump has famously resisted making his tax returns public for years.
  • Trump’s disgraced former lawyer Michael Cohen thinks he knows why.
  • In Cohen’s new book Disloyal, the former fixer-turned-witness against President Donald Trump says the tax returns would reveal that Trump likely isn’t as wealthy as he claims to be, for starters.

Donald Trump’s disgraced former lawyer has been on a bit of a promotional tour in recent days to promote his memoir. The book is titled Disloyal, and the ex-lawyer is Michael Cohen, previously a kind of right-hand man to Donald Trump who was by his side for more than a decade. If you believe the book’s description on Amazon, it was a time spent engaged in everything from helping the future president inflate his wealth (to skirt tax obligations) or listening to Trump deliver “racist rants against President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, and black and Hispanic people in general.”

Cohen put himself in something of a tough spot credibility-wise, however, with his 180-degree turn from being Trump’s “fixer” to a source of alleged dirt on the president in exchange for a more lenient sentence stemming from crimes he was accused of during the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation. Democrats took Cohen’s revelations with a grain of salt, considering him an opportunist, while Trumplandia raged that he’s just saying whatever he can to escape more trouble.

At any rate, Cohen published his memoir earlier this month, and he revealed something pretty damning about the president during an interview about the book with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this week. When she asked Cohen at one point why the president has so steadfastly resisted making his tax returns public, here’s what he had to say:

There are two reasons, according to Cohen — because, once he does, people will possibly see that he’s not as wealthy as he claims, for one thing. “He doesn’t report the income he claims,” Cohen told CNN. “His wealth is not as significant, and I imagine they were probably lenient in how they took deductions.”

And that second thing actually leads into Cohen’s other suspicion.

“(Trump’s) biggest fear is, if that tax return was released, there’s a whole slew of accountants and forensic accountants that will rip through it and he will end up with a massive tax bill, penalties, fines, and possibly even tax fraud,” he said.

People with varying degrees of knowledge about Trump World, and some who have nothing more than mere suspicions, have certainly hinted at those two things as well over the years. These new insights are definitely intriguing, although it’s a measure of how singular this presidency is that there are so many other crises and potential PR headaches bedeviling Trump right now — most of which outweigh the tax issues — starting with the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of it.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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