Trump acknowledges Cohen payment on disclosure form
President Trump officially acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that he paid his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, more than $100,000 in order to reimburse him for expenses he incurred during the 2016 election.
Trump’s financial disclosure, released Wednesday by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), did not list the specific reason for the payment.
But Cohen has said he paid adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her allegations she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
The White House has said Trump denies the encounter took place.
The OGE said the payment should have been included on the disclosure form Trump filed last year, which showed his assets and liabilities from the previous 16 months.
“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.
OGE flagged the omission in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in case he “may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry” the Justice Department is pursuing.
The payment is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, who have launched a wide-ranging probe into Cohen’s business practices.
Trump’s representatives disagreed, writing on the form they were not required to disclose the payment but were doing so “in the interest of transparency.”
The president’s team wrote that Cohen “sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017.” It listed the value of the reimbursement between $100,001 and $250,000.
Trump filed the form on Tuesday, just ahead of the legal deadline to submit it. OGE reviewed the document and made it public Wednesday afternoon.
The president had denied knowledge of the payment until last month, when he admitted to repaying Cohen after Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani revealed the reimbursement during a Fox News interview.
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, questioned why Trump disclosed his reimbursement of Cohen now.
“Either Mr. Trump was lying then or he’s lying now,” he said on MSNBC. “One of the two. But you can’t reconcile this disclosure with what he previously stated to the American people on Air Force One.”
Trump in April flatly stated that he had no knowledge of the payment to Daniels.
“No,” Trump said when asked by a reporter aboard Air Force One about the $130,000 payment.
Asked why the payment was made, Trump responded, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”
–Updated at 4:57 p.m.