House chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaya Rockeymoore Cummings reports surgery was a success, will return to campaign trail The Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today Maloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump MORE (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Friday the panel believes two attorneys for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE may have given false information to government ethics officials.

Cummings said the panel has reviewed newly uncovered documents from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) suggesting Trump's personal lawyer Sheri Dillon and former White House lawyer Stefan Passantino gave false info about payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

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“It now appears that President Trump’s other attorneys — at the White House and in private practice — may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials,” Cummings wrote in a letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone. 

Cummings said Dillon “repeatedly stated to federal officials at OGE that President Trump never owed any money to Mr. Cohen in 2016 and 2017” and Passantino falsely told officials that Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen had a “retainer agreement.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Cohen, who arranged the payments for the women claiming affairs with Trump in 2006, was sentenced in December to three years in prison on a slew of charges, including some related to the payments. A federal judge ruled the payments violated campaign finance laws. Trump has denied the alleged affairs.

“President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, is now going to prison in part for his role in these hush-money payments,” Cummings wrote. “During his guilty plea, Mr. Cohen said that he did this ‘in coordination with, and at the direction of’ the President ‘for the principal purpose of influencing the election.’ ” 

“It now appears that President Trump’s other attorneys—at the White House and in private practice—may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials.  This raises significant questions about why some of the President’s closest advisers made these false claims and the extent to which they too were acting at the direction of, or in coordination with, the President.” 

Cummings also sent Alan Futerfas, who represents the Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpResistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family George Conway and Trump Jr. trade personal insults during impeachment hearing Trump: 'Everybody knows who the whistleblower is' MORE, a second letter saying the Trump Organization had not complied with the committee’s request for several documents. Futerfas had initially declined to forfeit the documents since they were currently in the possession of federal authorities who are probing the business. 

“Congress takes great care not to impair the outcome of criminal cases while exercising its own constitutional authority to conduct robust oversight,” Cummings said.