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cohen
Credit: Linda Ting

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, testified in Congress Wednesday morning that he sent a letter to Penn to stop them from releasing Trump's grades, threatening civil and criminal actions against the University.

"When I say con man, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores," Cohen said in his opening testimony.

During his testimony, Cohen said he provided the House Oversight and Reform Committee with copies of letters he wrote at "Mr. Trump's direction" that threatened the institutions. The president graduated from Wharton in 1968 after transferring from Fordham University in 1966.

The testimony, which took place in front of the Committee, centered on Cohen's attacks against his former employer Trump. Cohen appeared before the Committee to discuss Trump's 2016 campaign and his business' financial practices.

Cohen also disclosed the letter he addressed to Fordham University's current president blocking the institution from releasing the president's grades.

[Was Trump really a top student at Wharton? His classmates say not so much.]

A spokesperson for Fordham University, in a statement to Inside Higher Ed, confirmed that the school received a letter from a Trump attorney stating they would "take action against the university" if Fordham released Trump's records. 

"Our stance remains the same: we obey federal law and don't release student records to anyone but the student/graduate or anyone that the student designates, in writing," the statement read.

Penn Director of Media Relations Ron Ozio declined to comment.

"Sorry, but we do not comment on students records," Ozio wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian on Wednesday morning.

Michael Cohen's letter to Fordham University President Rev. Joseph McShane.

[Trump flaunts Wharton degree, but his college years remain a mystery.]

In February 2017, Ozio told the DP that the University could not release any academic information other than date of graduation, degree, and major. 

“[This] does not change because an alumnus is famous or holds a public position,” Ozio wrote in an email.

In Cohen's testimony, he connected the push to threaten Trump's schools to comments Trump made about President Barack Obama. Trump labeled Obama a poor student and called on him to release his grades in 2011, prompting Cohen to remark on the "irony" of the situation.

The 2017 DP report found that Trump's classmates had mixed impressions of his years at Wharton, with many questioning his assertion that he graduated towards the top of his class. According to Daily Pennsylvanian records from 1968, Trump’s name did not appear among the 56 Wharton students who made the school’s Dean’s list that year.  

Senior News Editor Madeleine Ngo contributed reporting.

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