Trump's financial disclosure form released by ethics office

Leroy Wright
May 17, 2018

President Donald Trump made no mention in his financial disclosure report Wednesday of a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair, but said in a footnote that he "fully reimbursed" his personal attorney for as much $250,000 for unspecified "expenses".

Cohen paid Daniels US$130,000 in hush money shortly before the presidential election on November 8, 2016; Cohen said he used his own home equity line of credit to afford it, and Trump previously denied knowledge of the payment. Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has characterized the repayment as taken from funds paid as a retainer for Cohen's legal services that didn't have to be listed as a debt, according to the BuzzFeed story. However, the Office of Government Ethics said President Trump was required to provide this information anyway.

Yet a letter accompanying the report sent to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, from David J. Apol, the government ethics office's acting director, said that the Office of Government Ethics had determined "the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability".

Apol suggested in his letter to Rosenstein that Trump's payment to Cohen should have been disclosed on the president's forms that he signed on June 14, 2017, which applied to the 2016 calendar year.

"Frankly I love the idea that the Office of Government Ethics says that everything is fully disclosed and therefore its ethical", Giuliani told CNN. Cohen stated that Trump was not party to the transaction, nor had he reimbursed Cohen for the transaction.

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The ethics disclosure draws a clearer connection between Trump and Cohen and further underlines inconsistencies in descriptions provided by Trump and aides about the payments.

The footnote appears in a report giving the first extended look at Trump's income from his properties since he became president.

But ethics experts say that if that payment was knowingly and willfully left out, Trump could be in violation of federal ethics laws.

Trump, his campaign and Cohen have all denied any wrongdoing. According to the report, Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida made over $25 million in 2017, and income from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has doubled since 2016 to over $40 million. The U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday referred Trump's Stormy Daniels payment to the Department of Justice. Mr. Trump also owes Ladder Capital at least $110 million. Trump said he turned over control of his businesses to his sons Eric and Donald Trump he could focus on his presidency. His Doral club, as was the case past year, dwarfed the rest of his golf properties, with revenues of nearly $75 million.

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