WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump reported that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen for costs apparently incurred in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels for a non-disclosure agreement, according to a federally required annual financial disclosure form released by the Office of Government Ethics Wednesday.
“In the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as ‘reportable liabilities’ … in 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen,” a note at the bottom of Page 45 of the 92-page report states. “Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $100,001 to $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero.”
The acting director of OGE, David J. Apol, concluded that Trump’s report “meets the disclosure requirements” — the outside group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had filed a complaint that Trump’s 2017 form had improperly omitted a “loan” from Cohen — but noted that making that debt public “is required.”
Federal law requires White House officials, including the president, to “report liabilities owed to any creditor that exceeded $10,000 at any time during the reporting period.” It is illegal to “knowingly and willfully” omit or falsify information on disclosure forms, a crime punishable by a fine and up to one year in prison
Last year, Trump did not disclose any debts to Cohen, who executed a payment of $130,000 to Clifford less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Trump, who has denied having a sexual relationship with Daniels during his marriage to First Lady Melania Trump, said earlier this month that he reimbursed Cohen.
“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” Trump wrote on Twitter, reversing an earlier statement that he was unaware of the disbursement.
In April, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he did not know about the payment to Daniels or where Cohen got the money to make it.
Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti said on MSNBC Wednesday that the new disclosure shows Trump was not being truthful at that time. The financial report, signed by Trump, notes that Cohen was reimbursed by the president in 2017, at least three months before his Air Force One remarks.
“These guys can’t keep their lies straight,” Avenatti said.
Trump confidant and adviser Rudy Giuliani described the transaction by saying money was “funneled through” Cohen’s law firm.