WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s annual financial disclosure shows that he reimbursed his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the hush money payment the latter made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to the document released on Wednesday by the Office on Government Ethics.
According to the text of the document, in 2017 Trump “fully reimbursed” Cohen between $100,001 and $250,000 for the lawyer’s 2016 payment to Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump 10 years before.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000, but the report does not specify the reason for – or the quantity of – the payment. It does acknowledge that the president made this payment after Cohen requested it of him.
The attorney – who is also widely considered to be a “fixer” for the president – publicly admitted paying Daniels, claiming that he initially got the money for the payment by borrowing against a line of credit on his home.
Trump had been required to note the transaction as a liability on his 2016 disclosure form, but he failed to do so.
The president had claimed that he did not know about Cohen’s payment to Daniels, but former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – newly hired by Trump as part of his personal legal team – stated on May 2 that the president had reimbursed Cohen.
OGE acting director David Apol wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding the 92-page disclosure form, saying that “OGE has concluded that, based on the information provided ... the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability,” adding, “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.”
The Justice Department has not said whether it is investigating the president’s prior lack of disclosure of the reimbursement to Cohen.
The report on Trump’s financial disclosure form comes a few days after the president admitted that he paid back the $130,000 that Cohen provided to Daniels in exchange for her signing a nondisclosure agreement just prior to the 2016 election.
Senior federal officials are required to provide annual ethics disclosures and the process is handled by the OGE, which oversees an executive branch program to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest.