We’ve known for a while that Donald Trump used money from his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, to buy a painting of himself. What was learned from Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen during his hearing on Wednesday was the length Trump went to in order to endure his painting sold high.
Cohen testified that Trump had Cohen secure a “straw bidder” to drive up the price of the painting of Trump. The fake bidder won the 2013 auction at the price of $60,000, which was paid by the charitable Trump Foundation, and the painting was kept by the president.
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
Trump paid for this painting in person, and according to the artist “was nothing but a gentleman.”
This was not the only time the president used his charity to buy a painting of himself — a six-foot tall painting of Donald Trump was purchased for $20,000 by the Trump Foundation at a charity auction in 2007. It has supposedly been at Trump National Golf Club Westchester since.
The charity bought a third painting of the President for $10,000 in 2014 when no one else bid on it.
Cohen got to the heart of these purchases during the public hearing when asked by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) why the president would bid up a painting — in this case the $60,000 painting — which he ultimately would be paying for.
“It was all about ego,” Cohen answered. “He tasked me to find the straw bidder to ensure his painting, which was going last in the auction, would go for the highest amount.”
That painting, like the $20,000 one, is believed to be in one of Trump’s clubs.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley: Why would the President want to bid up the price of something he was ultimately paying for?
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 27, 2019
All together, these three paintings represent almost $100,000 in criminal self-dealing, where a representative of a charity uses that foundation’s funds for personal gain. Self-dealing is one of several illegal activities that led to the dissolution of the Trump Foundation in 2018.
The foundation was accused of “a shocking pattern of illegality” by New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood.
It is worth noting at this point that essentially every organization associated with the president is either presently under investigation or has been shut down as part of what Esquire calls “The Great American Heist.”
This shockingly brazen pattern of behavior was explored under Pressley’s questioning of Cohen in regard to the conduct of the Trump Foundation. Pressley did not immediately respond to Grit Post’s request for comment following the high-profile hearing.
Cohen’s hearing Wednesday elaborated on a number of illegal activities related to “Individual 1” and Trump-related activities after turning state’s witness following an FBI raid of his home last April.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.