Trump and ex-confidant Michael Cohen set for showdown in New York trial

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Trump is not required to attend the proceedings, but he has shown up sporadically, using his appearances to portray himself as the victim of a supposed Democratic Party plot to interfere with his 2024 presidential campaign.

The 77-year-old and his two eldest sons are accused of vastly – and fraudulently – inflating the value of the Trump Organisation’s real estate assets to receive more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.

The former president does not risk going to jail in the fraud trial, but New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is seeking US$250 million (S$342 million) in penalties and the removal of Trump and his sons from management of the family empire.

Mr Cohen, once known as Trump’s “Pitbull”, has been taunting the former president on social media ahead of his testimony.

He said on Monday he “will continue to speak truth to power… no matter Donald’s continued smear and harassment campaign against me”.

On Tuesday, as he left a hotel apparently heading for the courthouse, Mr Cohen insisted his credibility was intact and “I’m looking forward to the reunion” in court.

It was Mr Cohen’s testimony before Congress in 2019 that sparked the investigation by New York authorities into whether Trump artificially inflated his net worth.

Trump ally pleads guilty

Mr Cohen is also expected to be a star witness in a separate criminal case facing the former president in New York for allegedly paying election-eve hush money to a pornographic actress.

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with the payment. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Cohen was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison for crimes including the hush-money case and tax evasion, but was released after a little over a year and served the remainder of his sentence in home confinement.

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