Shaub: DOJ must investigate if Trump knew about Cohen debt

Shaub: DOJ must investigate if Trump knew about Cohen debt

Former federal ethics chief Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubShaub: DOJ must investigate if Trump knew about Cohen debt The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by FICO — Trump’s election day gamble on Iran Ex-White House ethics chief: Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is a ‘symbol of corruption’ MORE is calling for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpMexican presidential candidate vows to fire back at Trump's 'offensive' tweets Elizabeth Warren urges grads to fight for 'what is decent' in current political climate Jim Carrey takes aim at Kent State grad who posed with AR-10 MORE purposefully omitted a request from his longtime lawyer to be reimbursed more than $100,000 in 2016.

Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), questioned whether Trump knew about his debt to his attorney Michael Cohen when the president filed his financial disclosure forms last year, which covered calendar year 2016.

"If DOJ investigates and determines that President Trump knew of his debt to Cohen when he filed last year’s report, there will be reason to suspect that his omission of the debt from last year’s report was ‘knowing and willful,’ which would be a crime," Shaub, who now works at the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement.

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Shaub pointed to recent statements from Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor now serving as a member of Trump's personal legal team, who said the president began repaying Cohen for a payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels months before submitting his financial disclosure form last year.

"President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claims the president didn’t know about the payment when he filed that report last year, but this explanation seems implausible," Shaub said. "For one thing, Giuliani admits that the president started repaying his debt to Cohen months before he filed his financial disclosure report."

The OGE released Trump and Vice President Pence's financial disclosure forms on Wednesday, which publicly disclosed on the president's forms for the first time that he paid Cohen more than $100,000 for expenses he "incurred" in 2016.

Cohen has acknowledged that he paid Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair.

The acting director of the OGE sent a copy of Trump's latest financial disclosure forms to the DOJ on Wednesday, suggesting officials "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 OGE said in its release Wednesday of the forms that the payment to Cohen should have been included in the president's disclosure last year.

"OGE has concluded that the information related to the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported and that the information provided meets the disclosure requirement for a reportable liability,” the office said in a note on the 2017 form.

Shaub, who previously clashed with Trump while leading the OGE, has repeatedly weighed in on the Trump administration's moves since resigning last summer.