Michael Cohen Just Told Congress That President Trump Directed His Charity to Buy Yet Another Portrait of Himself
This is the third portrait of the president that Trump is accused of buying for himself through the Trump Foundation.
As controversies continue to swirl around President Trump, his dealings with Russia, and his relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels, among other alleged improprieties, a portrait of the president now sits at the center of a new accusation.
Micahel Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, testified this morning before Congress that Trump directed his charitable organization to buy the painting from a “fake bidder” after it sold at an event in the Hamptons for $60,000.
“Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event,” Cohen wrote in his prepared remarks, which were published in full by the Hill prior to his testimony. “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.”
“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,” he added.
In his testimony, Cohen also recounted visiting Trump after he took office, saying that the president took him around to see paintings hanging in the White House, meanwhile reassuring him that hush money checks were forthcoming.
In 2013, Trump bragged about the painting’s success on Twitter after it sold.
The picture, by artist William Quigley, was painted between 2006 and 2011.
News of the charity auction was first reported by the Hamptons news outlet Dan’s Papers in 2015. “Quigley says he received word before the auction that Trump may want the painting, so he better raise the starting bid so as not to embarrass Trump,” the story notes.
According to Dan’s Papers, the charity auction featured three celebrity portraits, including one of actor Ethan Hawke, and was supposed to be led by Andy Dick. Instead, Quigley’s friend, Conrad Steinman, served as auctioneer. The straw bidder acting on Trump’s behalf was identified by Dan’s Papers as billionaire art collector Stewart Rahr.
This is the third portrait of the president that he has been accused of purchasing using money from the Trump Foundation, which was dissolved in December.
Cohen has plead guilty to making false statements. Trump decried his former lawyer’s testimony on Twitter, claiming he was lying to reduce jail time.
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