Michael Cohen says Trump execs called themselves the 'Gang of Four' like the radical Maoists convicted in 1981

  • Trump's NY fraud trial began its fourth week with testimony by fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen.

  • A decade ago, he and three other Trump execs called themselves the "Gang of Four," Cohen said.

  • The first Gang of Four, a group of Maoist radicals, got convicted in a highly-publicized show trial.

Four top Trump Organization executives used to call themselves the "Gang of Four," according to testimony by Michael Cohen on Tuesday, in the former president's civil fraud trial in New York. 

The nickname turned out to be an interesting choice, given that the original Gang of Four was a group of radical Maoists who, after running amok during China's Cultural Revolution, wound up convicted in 1981 in a highly publicized show trial.

Nearly a decade ago, the Trump Org version of the Gang of Four met monthly with executives for Aon Insurance, which insured many of Trump's assets at the time, Cohen testified.

Trump, who was not in the gang, would crash these in-person meetings, disrupting them with such remarks as "maybe we should self insure," and "we'd better get a good premium," Cohen testified.

"Was Mr. Trump ever involved in these 'Gang of Four' meetings?" Cohen was asked by Colleen Faherty, a top attorney for New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose 2022 fraud lawsuit has put Trump, his company, and his two eldest sons on trial.

"Yes," Cohen answered, alleging Trump's involvement. Linking Trump to the insurance negotiations is important for the AG, who has alleged that the former president fraudulently inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars a year to mislead lenders and insurers into offering him higher cost savings.

"On rare occasions, we would go up to his office to discuss an insurance issue," Cohen said on the witness stand, sitting some 20 feet away from Trump himself, who sat at the defense table.

"For the most part, Trump would go two-thirds into the meeting," Cohen added. "He would just show up."

The "gang"  was comprised of four of Trump Org executive vice presidents, including Cohen, then Trump's special counsel. The other three members were Matt Calamari, Trump's chief operating officer, Ron Lieberman, vice president of management and development, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer.

Cohen didn't speak to the origin of the nickname or its historical roots during his testimony.

The nickname was coined by an Aon executive, he said. In official emails, though, Aon would call the group the "Team of Four," a 2013 email that was moved into evidence showed.

"I am excited that the Trump Organization has created a Team of Four to review the Trump Organization's insurance program, insurance policy buying decisions, claims management and risk protection protocols," an Aon executive told the gang members in an email.

Earlier in Cohen's testimony on Tuesday, he linked Trump directly to the fraudulent net-worth statements.

"I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected," Cohen testified.

The fourth week of the trial got off to a rocky start. Monday's testimony was canceled due to what the attorney general's office told reporters was a "COVID exposure."

Tuesday's testimony was then briefly delayed, as an unmasked Trump watched his unmasked lawyers complain of the infection risk from a total of four attorney general's team members testing positive for the virus.

The judge told everyone that N95 masks were available to anyone in the courtroom and that no trial delay was necessary.


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