• Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:42 pm

Trump discloses payment to attorney who paid off porn star

  • Published at 05:57 pm May 17th, 2018
2018-05-16_USA-TRUMP
US President Donald Trump arrives to visit first lady Melania Trump at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she is recovering from kidney surgery, in Bethesda, Maryland, US, May 16, 2018 Reuters

Trump's filing states that the president was not required to disclose Cohen's expenses, but was doing so in the interest of transparency

US President Donald Trump has formally disclosed that he reimbursed his personal attorney more than $100,000 last year, apparently in connection with the payment of hush money to a porn star, government records show.

The disclosure caps a series of contradictory statements from Trump and his representatives on the scandal swirling around lawyer Michael Cohen - which has widened to ensnare major corporations and a Russian oligarch.

The documents released on Wednesday by a US government ethics body do not specify the reason for the payments to Cohen, who paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had a tryst with Trump in 2006 while he was married. The president denies the affair, and initially denied all knowledge of the payment, which Cohen has acknowledged was intended to stop her from going public with the allegations.

Trump's claim began to unravel early this month, however, after Rudy Giuliani, a new member of the president's legal team, said Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the sum paid to Daniels - and the president himself subsequently acknowledged the repayment.

A footnote to disclosures submitted on Tuesday to the Office of Government Ethics said Cohen had incurred "expenses" on Trump's behalf in 2016 of between $100,001 and $250,000. 

"Mr Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr Trump fully reimbursed Mr Cohen in 2017," it said.

Trump's filing states that the president was not required to disclose Cohen's expenses, but was doing so in the interest of transparency. 

But an accompanying letter to the Justice Department from David Apol, the acting head of the Office of Government Ethics, said the payments by Cohen were indeed required to be reported, as also argued by an outside government ethics group which had lodged official complaints in March.

Apol told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that he was providing both Trump's 2017 and 2018 disclosures, as potentially "relevant to any inquiry" the Justice Department may be pursuing into the president's filings from last year.

Stormy Daniels is suing to be released from the hush agreement reached with Cohen, claiming it is invalid because Trump never signed it.

The president's lawyer, meanwhile, finds himself under investigation by federal prosecutors who seized reams of evidence in raids on his home and office last month but have not revealed what crimes he may have committed.


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