Trump’s Financial Disclosure Clears The Air On That Stormy Daniels Payment

President Trump snuck a bombshell into what’s normally a dull financial form. Trump’s financial disclosure acknowledged the Stormy Daniels payment "in the interest of transparency." Trump told reporters in April that he had no knowledge of a non-disclosure agreement signed by Daniels nor a $130,000 payment Daniels received from Trump’s personal lawyer.

"Expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen," a footnote included in the president’s 2018 disclosure reads. "Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017." The footnote doesn’t specify the exact amount Cohen was reimbursed, but indicates that it was between $100,001 and $250,000.

Cohen acknowledged earlier this year that he paid the adult film star $130,000 as part of an agreement that she wouldn’t publicly voice her allegations that she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has repeatedly denied the affair, as well as any knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Daniels. However, Trump’s newest lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, caused a stir earlier this month by revealing that the president didn’t just know about the payment, but fully reimbursed Cohen in monthly installments. Giuliani told BuzzFeed News that $35,000 payments to Cohen were spread out over 2017 and have since stopped.

Trump filed this year’s financial disclosure on Tuesday, and it was released to the public by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) on Wednesday. Because Giuliani had previously told reporters that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000, there was speculation about whether or not Trump would disclose the payment on the form.

Walter Shaub, former OGE director, and Adav Noti, senior director for the Campaign Legal Center, explained in a USA Today op-ed that Trump was legally obligated to include the payment in the form. But Shaub and Noti also explained that Trump will also need to explain why he didn’t include the payments in last year’s financial disclosure.

"Disclosing it now means acknowledging that he should have disclosed it last year," they wrote. "Disclosure may also lead to damaging revelations if he omitted other liabilities from any past financial disclosure reports or incurred new ones since June. As a result, the president’s team could be looking for a way to justify the omission."

When Giuliani revealed the reimbursement, he referred to it as an expense. "I’m almost certain that there wasn’t an itemized bill," he told BuzzFeed. The footnote acknowledging the payments mimicked Giuliani’s description, claiming the reimbursement was "not required to be disclosed as ‘reportable liabilities.’"

Shaub and Noti said the payment qualified as a "liability" and legally needed to be included in the financial disclosure, however. "Even ignoring the disingenuousness of calling the payment an expense, however, there is no exception for expenses," they wrote.

More to come…

Source: Read Full Article