Trump discloses payment to Cohen in financial form

President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time that he repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen more than $100,000 for...

Posted: May 17, 2018 3:59 AM
Updated: May 17, 2018 3:59 AM

President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time that he repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen more than $100,000 for expenses Cohen incurred during the 2016 presidential election, according to a financial disclosure form released Wednesday.

The document did not explicitly state what the payments were for. But Trump's lawyers have previously said that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Daniels has alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, a claim he denies.

"In 2016, expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen," read a footnote on the form, which was released by the Office of Government Ethics. "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."

Trump submitted the document on Tuesday, the deadline for administration employees to file their financial documents. The agency reviewed the form and made it public on Wednesday.

Trump's representatives said in the document that revealing the payments made to Cohen was not necessary by law, instead saying they were listing them "in the interest of transparency."

The ethics office seemed to disagree, annotating the document: "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."

OGE's acting director, David Apol, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein along with the financial disclosure, notifying the Justice Department of the Cohen payment.

Apol wrote in the letter to Rosenstein that the Office of Government Ethics had determined "the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability" and 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 4, 2017."

Federal law says it's illegal for officials to "knowingly and willfully" falsify information on their disclosure forms. The ethics watchdog group CREW on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint with the Justice Department against Trump accusing him of intentionally leaving off the Cohen payments on last year's form.

Earlier this month, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani disclosed in a Fox News interview Trump had personally repaid Cohen for the payment to Daniels, appearing to contradict Trump's recent insistence that he did not know about the payment.

"They funneled through a law firm, and the President repaid it," Giuliani said. "That was money that was paid by his lawyer. The President reimbursed that over the period of several months.

Giuliani subsequently told The New York Times the reimbursement was made in monthly installments of $35,000 to Cohen that began some time after the campaign. He also said Trump paid Cohen far more than $130,000 -- Cohen received around $460,000 or $470,000, Giuliani said, which included "incidental expenses" that Cohen had incurred on Trump's behalf.

Trump property income

Aside from the Cohen payments, the filings provide a look into Trump's finances after more than a year on the job. His income from investments and businesses stood around $450 million.

Trump's hotel in Washington, a block from the White House, brought in revenues of $75 million, the documents showed. The property has been popular among Republican operatives and Trump aides.

Mar-a-Lago, where Trump spends many weekends over the winter, brought in revenue of $25 million in 2017.

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