Donald Trump’s failure to report his $130,000 payoff to adult film star Stormy Daniels may have been a criminal offense, and the matter has been referred to the Department of Justice, Huffington Post is reporting.
When Trump originally filed his June, 2017, financial disclosure form, he did not include the $130,000 that he paid, via his attorney, Michael Cohen, to Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford). Although he did admit to the payment in a footnote filed this week, which he claims was unnecessary, but done anyway “in the interest of transparency,” the original omission may be a criminal matter.
At least, that’s what Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director David Apol believes. In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which you can read in its entirety here, Apol notes that there appears to be a potentially-criminal discrepancy between Trump’s two statements about the matter.
“You may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing regarding the president’s prior report that was signed on June 14, 2017.”
If federal prosecutors determine that a law was violated, Trump could theoretically be punished with up to a year in prison.
Trump’s newest attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, may have forced Trump’s hand on the payout a few weeks ago, when he revealed in an interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity that Trump had repaid Cohen the $130,000. That revelation came after months of denials from Trump that he knew anything about the payment.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) May 17, 2018
Since that admission, Giuliani has continued to make assertions about the payoff, a couple of which aren’t exactly true.
For example, Giuliani claims that the payoff was the settlement of a “nuisance claim,” when in fact, Apol states that it should have been listed as a liability, legally.
Further, Giuliani has claimed that the payment was not funneled through a shell company, the newly registered Delaware shell company, Essential Consultants, even though it very clearly was, as evidenced by copies of the wire transfer.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was quick to point out Giuliani’s apparent lack of familiarity with the truth.
“Once again Mr. Giuliani has attempted to deceive the American people with this payment.”
Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics has filed a complaint against Trump.
“There is substantial evidence that President Trump had knowledge of the loan when he filed his 2017 [financial disclosure form] notwithstanding his failure to report it.”