Trump financial disclosure includes Michael Cohen payment

17 May, 2018, 09:11 | Author: Corey Lynch
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President Trump should have disclosed Michael Cohen's hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels as a financial liability previous year, the government's top ethics watchdog concluded Wednesday, potentially opening the president up to legal complications. The office's acting director David Apol in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explained that the forms were being referred after the nonprofit legal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested in a complaint that the agencies investigate whether the payment should have been reported.

The exact reason for the payment is not given, beyond being stated as covering "expenses", but came in the aftermath of Cohen paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump a decade before he became president.

Trump's claim began to unravel early this month, however, after Rudy Giuliani, a new member of the president's legal team, said Trump the president in fact reimbursed Cohen for the payments to Daniels. "Mr. Cohen ought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017".

Acting OGE Director David Apol flagged the item in a letter Wednesday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also oversees the special counsel Russian Federation probe.

On May 2, Rudy Giuliani, the former NY mayor who joined Trump's personal legal team in April, said Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the payment.

The filing shows Trump paid between $100,000 and $250,000 to Cohen. This new disclosure could help bolster that argument by Trump.

A recent Bloomberg article stated that Novartis had made approximately $1.2 billion United States dollars in payments to Cohen in an agreement signed by Ehrat and Novartis former-CEO, Joe Jimenez. The filing released Wednesday capped the amount Trump paid back to Cohen in 2017 at $250,000, leaving more than $200,000 of the amount Giuliani mentioned unaccounted for.

The ethics disclosure draws a clearer connection between Trump and Cohen and further underlines inconsistencies in descriptions provided by Trump and aides about the payments.

Federal law requires liabilities that exceed $10,000 to be reported even if those debts were repaid that year. Cohen has also admitted the hush payment was issued 11 days before Trump's election.

"It wasn't for the campaign", Giuliani said at the time, adding, "Imagine if that [allegation] came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton?" "The information provided meets the disclosure requirement for a reportable liability".

But two weeks ago, Giuliani - in one of his first interviews as Trump's latest lawyer - claimed that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels. According to the report, Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida made over $25 million in 2017, and income from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has doubled since 2016 to over $40 million.

When Trump took office, he refused to fully divest from his global business, another break with presidential tradition.


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