President Trump’s newly filed financial disclosure form includes confirmation that the president reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen last year for unspecified “expenses” – apparently the hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
The single line, included at the bottom of a page in the middle of the latest financial report, helps explain why Trump legal team member Rudy Giuliani publicly acknowledged the payment for the first time earlier this month, during a Fox News interview.
At the time, Giuliani told host Sean Hannity that Trump reimbursed Cohen the $130,000 he paid to Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
While Trump has denied the underlying allegations, a source told Fox News on Wednesday that Giuliani came forward regarding the payment because he knew it would be in the next financial disclosure report to the Office of Government Ethics.
The report, though, could cause new problems for Trump, as he did not report the payment in last year’s filing.
Acting OGE Director David Apol flagged the item in a letter Wednesday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also oversees the special counsel Russia probe. Citing a prior complaint that questioned whether that payment was a loan that should have been reported in the last filing, Apol confirmed it is “required to be reported as a liability” – and his office determined the newly provided note “meets the disclosure requirements.”
“I am providing both reports to you because 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,” he wrote.
The line in the new report stated:
“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 value would be $100,001 - $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero.”
The line did not mention Daniels, but the $130,000 payment would fall within that range.
Giuliani’s comments created a firestorm for the White House earlier this month, as some raised questions of whether a campaign finance violation had been committed – which Giuliani denied.
Trump followed up Giuliani’s interview by stressing that campaign funds played no role and saying the money was meant to stop “false” allegations.
Giuliani himself also put out a clarification saying the payment was made “to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family” and “would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”
That may have been a reference to comments he made on “Fox & Friends,” where he suggested the payment had political implications.
“It wasn’t for the campaign,” Giuliani said at the time, adding, “Imagine if that [allegation] came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton?”
Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Brooke Singman and Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.