The document, signed by the president and dated May 15, 2018, includes a footnote about Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
“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,” a footnote in the filing reads.
Attached to the filing is a letter from the acting director of Office of Government Ethics to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which notes that the “payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability.”
The letter notes that the information should have been disclosed in the report signed June 14, 2017 (for the calendar year 2016). The letter was written in connection to a complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asking that the Department of Justice and Office of Government Ethics look into the matter.
Trump’s reimbursement to Cohen amounts to more than $100,000, according to the filing.
The most recent addition to President Trump’s legal team, Rudy Giuliani, told the New York Times that Cohen was paid $460,000 or $470,000 in total through monthly payments of $35,000.
Earlier this month, Giuliani described the payments to George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" as "an expense" rather than a "liability".
"If this was not a campaign finance violation, as you say, this was a liability to Michael Cohen. Why didn’t the president include that liability on his financial disclosure form," Stephanopoulos asked.
"Well, how could he if he didn’t know it? Right? I mean, first of all, it isn’t a liability, it’s an expense," Giuliani responded. "I don’t think those are included."
Giuliani said Trump didn’t know he had a liability to Cohen at the time he filed the previous report.
If the Justice Department pursues this referral from the Office of Government Ethics – it will have to determine if the failure to report the liability on the previous report was done “knowingly and willfully”.
With regard to Trump’s properties, his Washington, DC hotel appears to have had a banner year, raking in over $40 million in income.
Trump has come under scrutiny from ethics watchdogs who accuse the president of using his office to promote his properties.
Before becoming President, Trump pledged to donate any foreign profits his company made at Trump owned properties; earlier this year, the Trump Organization announced a check for $151,470 had been donated to the US Treasury for foreign profits the company made during 2017.
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