US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at his hotel in New York City, US, May 11, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)
President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time that he repaid his attorney Michael Cohen for a payment of at least$100,001 made to a “third party” in 2016, according to ethics disclosures signed by the president that were released by the US Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday.
Cohen made a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, shortly before the Nov. 8, 2016, presidential election in exchange for her staying silent about an alleged affair she had with Trump.
Trump’s new disclosure statement did not describe the purpose or the recipient of the 2016 payment made by Cohen.
But the acting director of the ethics office, David Apol, in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said it should have been disclosed in ethics documents that Trump filed in June 2017. Apol’s letter was released with the Trump disclosures.
The ethics office is a government watchdog that provides oversight of the executive branch program designed to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest.
Trump’s latest disclosure filing said Cohen incurred the expense in 2016 and that Cohen “sought reimbursement” in 2017. “Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen,” the report said.
The payment made by Cohen was between $100,001 and $250,000 and there was no interest incurred, the report said.
Trump had previously disputed whether he was aware of the payment by Cohen and if he reimbursed his attorney.
In April, Trump told reporters he did not know anything about the payment.
On May 2, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who joined Trump’s personal legal team in April, said that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the payment.
Cohen has publicly acknowledged paying Daniels, saying he obtained the cash through a line of credit on his home.