WASHINGTON, D.C.—Donald Trump filed his required 2017 financial disclosure form on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the Government Ethics Office revealed the contents of the disclosure which show, for the first time in an official document, that Trump admits he paid back his personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen for a payment made to AVN Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels.
But though the acting director of the Ethics Office David Apol concluded information provided by Trump “meets the disclosure requirements” regarding the Cohen reimbursement, Apol also sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying that the Cohen payment to Daniels and Trump’s reimbursement could be “relevant to any inquiry you are pursuing.”
Rosenstein is the Justice Department official directly in charge of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are also pursuing a separate, criminal investigation of Cohen’s financial dealings, reportedly including the Daniels payment.
The financial disclosure form is not specific, acknowledging only that Trump in 2017 reimbursed Cohen an amount exceeding $100,000 for Cohen’s payment to “a third party.” But Cohen has admitted paying $130,000 in hush money to Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election, to keep her silent about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump 10 years earlier.
The entire financial disclosure form, which also contains numerous other details about Trump’s financial activity in 2017, may be accessed online by visiting this link.
A note in the financial disclosure form reveals that the payment to Daniels likely should have been reported as a debt by Trump on his previous year’s filing. Trump in the note denies that the debt should have been reported but says he is doing so simply to be transparent.
"In the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as "reportable liabilities" on Part 8, in 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen. Mr Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of the value would be $100,001-$250,000 and the interest rate would be zero,” the note reads.
But in its own note in the document, the Government Ethics Office takes a different view, saying that the payment and debt was, in fact, required to be reported.
On April 5, Trump told reporters that he knew nothing about the payment by Cohen to Daniels — a claim that would now appear to be contradicted by his own financial disclosure report.
Also, Trump’s newest attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has claimed in interviews that Trump paid Cohen not merely the $130,000 previously paid to Daniels—but a total of $460,000. Trump’s financial disclosure form, however, says that the payment fell into the under-$250,000 category.