Ex-White House ethics chief: Trump just admitted filing false financial disclosure

The former director of the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday said that revelations that President Trump reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen for a payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels means the president has admitted to filing a false financial disclosure.

Walter Shaub tweeted that “in trying to talk his way out of a campaign finance violation, Trump has admitted to filing a false financial disclosure in 2017.”  

“He personally certified that his disclosure was ‘complete and correct,’” Shaub tweeted.

Shaub’s tweet comes as Trump’s newest attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), admitted Wednesday that Trump reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment given to Daniels to cover an affair she claims she had with the president.

Giuliani said Trump set up a $35,000 payment schedule out of his personal family bank account to pay back Cohen through a law firm.

“It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation,” Giuliani said.

Cohen was paid between $460,000 and $470,000 from Trump through those payments, which also included money for “incidental expenses” incurred on Trump’s behalf.

Schaub said that admission means there was a $460,000 liability that was purposefully left off Trump’s financial disclosure report.

“I normally assume commissions are inadvertent,” Schaub tweeted. “However, given all of the deception about the Stormy Daniels payment, it is pretty hard to be believe this is not intentional.”

Cohen has long insisted that he paid Daniels out of his own pocket without discussing it with Trump.

“Take, for example, the way Trump’s people fooled Maggie Haberman regarding this payment,” Schaub said, referring to the New York Times reporter. 

In a New York Times article in February Cohen specified that he was not reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the campaign for the payment.

The former ethics chief said that Trump’s attorneys “wanted him to be the first person in history to file a financial disclosure report without certifying that report as true.”

Schaub insisted in May 2017 that the ethics office would only work with Trump’s legal team if he signed off on the financial documents, according to a report from The Associated Press.

“This seems like as strong a circumstantial case for a violation as one is going to see,” Schaub tweeted. “It is absolutely stunning that we’ve reached the point where the President of the United States appeared to have lied to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics about a payoff to a porn star.” 

Trump defended the payment on Thursday in a set of early morning tweets, claiming the reimbursement was legal because it was a private contract between two parties.

The president said the Daniels agreement “was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair,” adding that such arrangements “are very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”

Shaub was not the only former ethics official to point to the possible false financial disclosure issue. 

Former Obama administration ethics chief Norm Eisen on Wednesday also said that Giuliani’s revelation that Trump reimbursed his attorney could mean that Trump filed a false financial disclosure.