(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump revealed in his financial disclosure Wednesday that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen as much as $250,000 for unspecified “expenses,” with no mention of a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual tryst she said they had.
The head of the nation’s ethics office questioned why Trump didn’t include this in his previous year’s sworn disclosure and passed along his concerns to federal prosecutors.
“I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing,” David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Apol wrote that he considers Trump’s payment to Cohen to be a repayment on a loan and that it was required to be included in Trump’s June 2017 disclosure.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham that the president was “fully aware” of the disclosure and “endorsed the strategy.”
“We wouldn’t do it without him,” Giuliani said on “The Ingraham Angle,” according to an excerpt provided by the network. “He’s the client, after all, and has tremendous judgment about things like this. And I think it — that the OGE, the Office of Government Ethics, basically agreed with us that it has been fully disclosed. I have a little disagreement with them, but it’s a petty one. I don’t believe it had to be disclosed at all.”
But ethics experts says that if that payment was knowingly and willfully left out, Trump could be in violation of federal ethics laws.
“This is a big deal and unprecedented. No president has been previously subject to any referral by (Office of Government Ethics) to DOJ as a result of having failed to report an item on their public financial disclosure report,” said Virginia Canter, a former ethics official in the Clinton and Obama White Houses who is now with the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
How Trump dealt with the Daniels hush money in his disclosure has been closely watched, particularly after his attorney Rudy Giuliani gave interviews earlier this month saying the president had reimbursed Cohen in a series of payments after the campaign was over. Trump and Giuliani have clashed over what the president knew and when he knew it.
In a footnote in tiny type on Page 45 of his 92-page disclosure, Trump said he reimbursed Cohen for “expenses” ranging from $100,001 to $250,000. The report said the president did not have to disclose the payment but was doing so “in the interest of transparency.”
While the disclosure didn’t specify the purpose of the payment, Cohen has said he paid $130,000 to Daniels in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep her from going public about her allegations that she had sex with the married Trump in 2006.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, tweeted, “Mr. Trump’s disclosure today conclusively proves that the American people were deceived.”
The tweet continued: “This was NOT an accident …read more
Source:: Time – Politics