Trump just revealed the Michael Cohen payment on his financial disclosure form, which introduces a bunch of new headaches
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump listed the reimbursement to lawyer Michael Cohen on his 2018 financial disclosure form.
- The reimbursement came after Cohen's $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
- Experts say the disclosure introduces new headaches for Trump.
- The Office of Government Ethics sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding the report.
President Donald Trump, in his 2018 financial disclosure report released Wednesday, revealed that he reimbursed his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen had facilitated the payment just prior to the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels alleged she had a 2006 affair with Trump, and Cohen made the payment to keep her from discussing her allegations with the press. She is now suing Cohen.
The 92-page financial disclosure form says the payment was "not required to be disclosed as 'reportable liabilities,'" though it said Trump disclosed it "in the interest of transparency."
In "2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen," the form read. "Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $100,001-$250,000 and the interest rate would be zero."
The Office of Government Ethics, which released the form, disagreed with the assessment.
"OGE has concluded that the information related to the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported and that the information provided meets the disclosure requirement for a reportable liability," the agency wrote.
That means the agency believes Trump should have disclosed the payment in last year's filing.
OGE Director David Apol sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after making the disclosure public, saying that "you 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."
"This is tantamount to a criminal referral," tweeted Walter Shaub, the former director of the OGE under Trump who has since become one of his chief critics. "OGE has effectively reported the president to DOJ for potentially committing a crime."
The disclosure comes just weeks after Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment via a retainer. Giuliani claimed that Trump did not know the purpose of the payment until recently. Cohen had initially claimed that Trump did not reimburse him for the hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Cohen and the White House have denied the Daniels allegation.
Shaub tweeted that the disclosure means that Trump is "sticking with the claim that he did not know about the debt last year, which is implausible." Shaub added that Trump is claiming there are no other debts, and that Giuliani "may have lied" when he said Trump paid Cohen $460,000 through the retainer.
"In turn, that means that Trump committed a crime if the omission was 'knowing and willful," Shaub wrote. "Trump may be wondering today whether the information DOJ seized from Cohen's office included any emails or other documents showing he knew of the debt when he filed last year's report."