Donald Trump released his annual financial disclosure Wednesday, providing key insight into the president’s assets and liabilities. His debts look largely the same as last year—with one glaring exception: Trump has now disclosed that he did indeed reimburse Michael Cohen, who paid off porn star Stormy Daniels.
The admission, made in a footnote placed below Trump’s more traditional loans, reads: “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.”
Since news broke in early May that Donald Trump reimbursed Cohen, ethics watchdogs have called on Trump to report the debt he owed Cohen on his personal financial disclosure.
According to federal disclosure rules, Trump is required to list any liabilities “owed to any creditor that exceeded $10,000 at any time during the reporting period,” even if he repaid those debts before the end of the year.
In early May, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the president personally reimbursed Cohen for a $130,000 hush payment that Cohen—a longtime Trump attorney—made to Daniels just before the 2016 election. Trump had previously claimed to have been unaware of the deal with the porn star, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006 (which Trump denies). Giuliani told The New York Times that Trump reimbursed Cohen in monthly $35,000 installments, beginning after the election, for that payment and other “incidental expenses.” That would mean that Trump owed Cohen more than $10,000 for at least part of the year.
Why Trump did not disclose the money he owed Cohen on last year’s form, which covered January 2016 through mid-April 2017, remains on unclear. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the federal government’s Office of Government Ethics, in a section labeled “comments of reviewing officials,” seems to disagree with Trump’s claim that he was “not required” to disclose the debt and is instead just releasing it “in the interest of transparency.” The Office of Government Ethics “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,” the officials wrote.
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