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Former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified this morning that President Donald Trump ordered him to find a bidder for a portrait of him, then paid the man back with funds from his charity.
Cohen’s prepared testimony alleged that Trump told him to find a “straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons event,” according to the testimony. It continues:
The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portait 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 himelf.
According to Cohen's testimony, Trump sent a fake bidder to bid on a portrait of himself so that it would go for the highest price in the auction.— Complex (@Complex) February 27, 2019
Trump flexed about his portrait costing $60,000 in a tweet later on: https://t.co/2KMoDhpjRd pic.twitter.com/eoT2JnrJGm
The auction, held in 2013, was to benefit East Hampton’s nonprofit theater and art museum. Artist William Quigley had painted several large-scale celebrity portraits, including the one of the president, which is nine feet tall.
At the time, Trump tweeted about the sale: “Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K.”
Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2013
Cohen alleges in his remarks that the portrait now hangs in one of Trump’s golf clubs.
Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has followed the travails of Trump’s New York-based charity, which has been shut down amid a probe into allegations that the Trump family used the foundation for personal gain.
The Post found that Trump had used the foundation to pay his legal fees and to buy art for his golf clubs. As Fahrenthold tweeted Wednesday, the portrait identified by Cohen would be the third purchased with Trump Foundation money, if Cohen’s most recent allegations are true.
This is actually a THIRD portrait of himself that @realdonaldtrump allegedly bought with his charity's $. I knew about a 3-ft one and a 6-ft one. This is a 9-ft one, that he bought in 2013.— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) February 27, 2019
I knew about the painting. I didn't know charity $ was involved.https://t.co/x6q25r2gHd https://t.co/50SA9ujWuF
H/T the Hill
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.