The Office of Government Ethics released President Donald Trump’s annual Personal Financial Disclosure Report on Wednesday, and it documents reimbursements totaling as much as $250,000 to his attorney, Michael D. Cohen, as reimbursement. Over $100,000 of that total was for reimbursement of a payment Cohen made to a third party. Many are speculating that the third-party payment may have been one that has been much talked about in recent weeks – the $130,000 Cohen has said he paid to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, whose acting name is Stormy Daniels, prior to the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an affair she claims to have had with Trump.
The president has claimed that he did not reimburse his attorney for the payment, but in an appearance on Hannity on Fox News a couple of weeks ago, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani indicated otherwise. He further stated that the payment was completely legal because the money did not come from campaign funds. Giuliani indicated that the payment was “funneled through a law firm and then the president repaid it.” When news of the $130,000 payment first broke, Michael D. Cohen did not deny it but said that he had not been reimbursed by either the president’s company or campaign.
The document filed by President Trump states that he disclosed the payment “in the interest of transparency” and not because he was required to do so. The Washington Post reports, however, that in a letter the ethics office sent to Rod J. Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, David J. Arpol indicated that, in fact, “the payment is required to be reported as a liability,” raising questions about the president’s failure to report the payment in last year’s disclosure.
Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, asked on Tuesday why Trump is acknowledging the payment now after denying it for so long.
“Was he lying then or was he lying now? He previously denied any knowledge of the agreement or the payment — and did so aboard Air Force One on video.”
The disclosure also provides a glimpse at the financial state of the president’s businesses whose daily operations are now being handled by his family. It indicates that his Washington hotel, a popular spot for lobbyists and Republican aides and among one of his most successful properties, had revenues of over $40 million in 2017.