House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the sharpest questions during the Committee hearing, leading to a more in-depth investigation into the president's assets.
On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a new legal action against the United States President Donald Trump's businesses as well as his son, Eric Trump. The action is part of an ongoing investigation into Trump's businesses to identify whether the Trump Organization, and the President himself, committed wire fraud. It has been suggested that the investigation is, in fact, a result of testimony elicited from Michael Cohen by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in early 2019, Law and Crime reports. In February last year, Cohen appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, where he provided some long-awaited answers about his own alleged crimes and those committed by his former friend and employer.
Attorney General James's new complaint requests that a state court force the defendants to comply with extant subpoenas that demand the release of sensitive financial information. It is believed that these documents include evidence of how the Trump Organization reportedly committed fraud. The recently-filed legal action also compels Eric Trump to testify regarding matters of fraud. However, none of this would have been possible without Ocasio-Cortez's input; when she questioned Cohen as the lower chamber’s standout interrogator, the Attorney General was able to latch on in order to ask for the court's intervention into obtaining evidence for "alleged asset inflation to game insurance rates and property tax payments."
The exchange between the House Representative and Cohen was, at the time, just short of 30 seconds. The former asked, "To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?" To this, the long-time Trump companion answered in the affirmative and informed her that three others (Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari) were aware of the president's involvement in the alleged crime. He also stated that the House Committee would need to find more information on the matter by reviewing Trump's "financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them," both documents that could be found with the Trump Organization.
James made the investigation into Trump's financial assets more clear with a press release issued on Monday. The press release made the link between the testimony elicited by Ocasio-Cortez from Cohen and the investigation overall more explicit. It read, "Attorney General James opened an investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization in 2019, after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump’s assets to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes."
The Squad member's contributions to the case were, most notably, accurately predicted by white-collar criminal expert and federal defense attorney Tor Ekeland when the incident took place. "If he’s [Trump] inflating his assets to get a better insurance rate or whatever, he’s using a scheme or artifice, which is the language of the statute, that’s arguably using a scheme or artifice to defraud the insurance company," he explained. "He’s not just implicated in the substantive part of the statute but also the surrounding statutes like conspiracy to commit wire fraud, solicitation [to commit wire fraud] and maybe even accessory [to commit wire fraud] after the fact."