Trump Properly Discloses Payment to Michael Cohen

FBI agents have raided New York residences and offices of Michael Cohen (L), Donald Trump's long-time lawyer, adding to the president's legal woes

The 92 pages of President Donald Trump’s financial disclosures for 2017 include a line item between $100,001 and $250,000 for lawyer Michael Cohen, consistent with the $130,000 payment Cohen made to a porn star claiming to have had a tryst with the president 12 years ago.

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) released the disclosure forms Wednesday, along with a letter from OGE head David Apol to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in response to a request from a left-wing corruption watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), to investigate.

CREW sent its request, asking the Justice Department and OGE to investigate whether Trump failed to properly disclose after Trump defense team leader Rudy Giuliani claimed the President had reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity at the start of the month.

The financial disclosure forms themselves state on their first page that Trump was required to disclose his payment to Cohen and that the way he did so satisfied that requirement. “OGE has concluded that the information related to the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported and that the information provided meets the disclosure requirement for a reportable liability,” a note in the forms reads.

Apol’s letter to Rosenstein reiterates that conclusion. Apol writes:

Today I certified President Trump ‘s financial disclosure report signed on May 15, 2018 (for calendar year 2017). OGE has concluded that, based on the information provided as a note to part 8, the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability. OGE has determined that the information provided in that note meets the disclosure requirements for a reportable liability under the Ethics in Government Act.

The question raised by CREW, however, whether Trump should have made the disclosure on his earlier filings for 2016, is left unanswered. “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,” Apol tells Rosenstein.

The extensive disclosures reveal a total income over $500 million for 2017. Highlights included a massive rise in value for the operator of the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., which had its first full year of operation in 2017, and between $100,001 and $1 million in royalties from Getty Images to first lady Melania Trump for use of her photographs.