Stormy Payment Listed in Belated Trump Disclosure Form

(CN) – The Office of Government Ethics criticized President Donald Trump on Wednesday as it published the Republican’s latest disclosure form, which belatedly notes a reimbursement to his attorney, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 that Cohen paid Stormy Daniels.

The 92-page filing from Trump claims that the disclosure is being made “in the interest of transparency, while not required.”

It describes a 2016 expense incurred by Cohen in the amount of $100,001 to $250,000.

“Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017,” the report states.

Disclosure of the payment was expected in light of a recent interview that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave to Fox News host Sean Hannity — an on-air admission that runs counter to Cohen’s prior description of the payment.

Cohen previously insisted that he paid the money out of his own pocket and Trump was not involved. Though adult film actress Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of that payment, she is fighting to have the settlement declare.

Daniels, whose birth name is Stephanie Clifford, says Cohen paid her to stop her from coming out during the election with revelations about a supposed one-night stand she claims to have had with Trump in 2006

Under the Ethics in Government Act, Trump is required to disclose all liabilities that exceeded $10,000 at any time during calendar year 2017, even if he repaid them later that year.

Giuliani insisted the transaction was legal because campaign funds were not used and the payment was “funneled it through a law firm and then the president repaid it.”

An earlier version of the report, which Trump signed in June 2017, tallied Trump’s assets at $1.4 billion and listed at least $594 million in income.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the federal ethics agency, predicted in an op-ed piece for USA Today that Trump’s belated disclosure of the payment to Daniels “may also lead to damaging revelations if he omitted other liabilities from any past financial disclosure reports or incurred new ones since June.”

“He may already be in trouble for omitting his debt to Cohen from last year’s report,” Shaub wrote. “If that omission was knowing and willful, the president may have violated a law that comes with civil and criminal penalties — more than one law in fact.”

Other ethic experts have suggested Trump could be in violation of ethics laws for failing to disclose a reportable item, a violation could lead to prosecution in U.S. District Court and a civil penalty of up to $50,000.

Trump’s latest financial disclosure will also offfer the first detailed look at how his network of businesses have performed since he became president in January 2017.

When Trump took office, he refused to fully divest from his global business, instead moving his businesses into a revocable trust. He is the sole beneficiary of the trust, which is managed by his two older sons.

Trump’s counsel at Spears & Imes LLP, a firm that is representing him as an intervenor in the Cohen proceedings, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Cohen is under federal investigation in New York where his home, office and hotel room were raided last month for documents pertaining to the Daniels payment.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington made a request on March 8 for the Department of Justice and the Office of Government Ethics to investigate whether Cohen’s payment constituted a loan that Trump intended to repay — something he would of then had to report on the financial disclosure form he filed last year.

In connection with the watchdog group’s lawsuit, David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, passed along Trump’s newly filed financial disclosure earlier today to Rod Rosenstein at the Department of Justice.

Apol wrote that Rosenstein “may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing regarding the President’s prior report that was signed on June 14, 2017.”

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