Photographs by Bloomberg News/Victor J. Blue
Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, exits from Federal Court in New York on April 16, 2018.
Originally published May 17, 2018 at 03:29a.m., updated May 17, 2018 at 03:29a.m.
WASHINGTON -- In new financial disclosure documents, President Donald Trump reported reimbursing his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for an expenditure over $100,000 last year -- a value that appears to correspond with the $130,000 that Cohen paid to ensure the silence of an adult-film actress who claimed she'd had a sexual encounter with Trump.
"In 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen," Trump reported in a footnote to his official Personal Financial Disclosure report, required of top federal officials. "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."
That statement was couched in a footnote on the 45th page of a 92-page disclosure.
Ethics experts said that if the payment to actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was knowingly and willfully left out, Trump could be in violation of federal ethics laws.
But Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham that he didn't think the repayment "had to be disclosed at all because I think it was an expenditure that he reimbursed."
Giuliani also said Wednesday that the president was "fully aware" of his decision to reveal the fact that Trump had reimbursed Cohen in a previous Fox News appearance and "endorsed the strategy."
He added later of the Cohen reimbursement: "The fact is that the president disclosed everything that he could disclose. He can't disclose more than he knows. And we're very comfortable with it."
The Office of Government Ethics, which oversees the financial-disclosure documents, said in its own footnote that it had concluded that Trump had to report the payment to Cohen in a section that detailed Trump's legal liabilities over the course of 2017 and the first half of 2018.
The office also released a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying it had concluded that Trump was required to disclose this liability owed to Cohen.
The letter was written in response to a complaint from a watchdog organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which said Trump should have reported the payments to Cohen in last year's disclosures.
The payment by Cohen to Daniels was made in the final weeks before the 2016 presidential election, as part of a nondisclosure agreement meant to ensure that Daniels would not speak publicly about the alleged sexual encounter.
After the payment was first revealed by the Wall Street Journal, Cohen acknowledged making the payment himself. He said he had not been reimbursed by Trump's company or Trump's campaign.
Earlier this year, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he had not known about Cohen's payment to Daniels.
"Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?" a reporter asked at the time.
"No," Trump said. "I don't know."
Before taking office, Trump said he shifted day-to-day control of his business to his sons, primarily Eric Trump. But the president retains ownership of those businesses, through a trust, and can take money out of them at any time.
In all, Trump's assets -- hotels, resorts, books and other business ventures -- generated revenue last year of at least $453 million. The report estimated the holdings are worth at least $1.4 billion.
Trump has at least $315 million in debt, according to the report.
Information for this article was contributed by Emma Brown and Beth Reinhard of The Washington Post; and by Bernard Condon, Tami Abdullah and Richard Lardner of The Associated Press.
A Section on 05/17/2018
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