Trump ad­mits fees

Ethics of­fice ques­tions 2017 dis­clo­sure omis­sion

Herald Sun - - WORLD - AP

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump has re­vealed he re­im­bursed his lawyer as much as $331,000 for un­spec­i­fied “ex­penses”, with no men­tion of a $172,000 pay­ment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sex­ual tryst she said they had.

The pay­ment, out­lined in the Pres­i­dent’s sworn an­nual fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure, prompted ques­tions from the na­tion’s ethics of­fice as to why it hadn’t been in­cluded in last year’s state­ment. “I am pro­vid­ing both re­ports to you be­cause you may find the dis­clo­sure rel­e­vant to any in­quiry you may be pur­su­ing,” David Apol, act­ing di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Gov­ern­ment Ethics, wrote to Deputy At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein.

Mr Apol wrote that he con­sid­ered Mr Trump’s pay­ment to lawyer Michael Cohen to be a re­pay­ment of a loan and it was re­quired to be in­cluded in the Pres­i­dent’s June 2017 dis­clo­sure.

But Mr Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Gi­u­liani, told Fox News he didn’t think the re­pay­ment “had to be dis­closed at all be­cause I think it was an ex­pen­di­ture that he re­im­bursed”.

He also said the Pres­i­dent was “fully aware” of his de­ci­sion — and Mr Gi­u­liani’s dis­clo­sure of the pay­ment in an ear­lier Fox News in­ter­view — and that he “en­dorsed the strat­egy”.

“We wouldn’t do it with­out him,” Mr Gi­u­liani said. “He’s the client, af­ter all, and has tremen­dous judg­ment about things like this. And I think that the OGE, the Of­fice of Gov­ern­ment Ethics, ba­si­cally agreed with us that it had been fully dis­closed.”

Ethics ex­perts say if the pay­ment was know­ingly and wil­fully left out, Mr Trump could be in vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral ethics laws.

In small type on page 45 of his 92-page dis­clo­sure, Mr Trump said he re­im­bursed Mr Cohen for “ex­penses” rang­ing from $132,000-$331,000. The re­port said the Pres­i­dent did not have to dis­close the pay­ment but was do­ing so “in the in­ter­est of trans­parency”.

While the dis­clo­sure didn’t spec­ify the pur­pose of the pay­ment, Mr Cohen has said he paid $172,000 to Ms Daniels in the weeks be­fore the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to keep her from go­ing pub­lic about her al­le­ga­tions she had sex with the mar­ried Mr Trump in 2006.

Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Ave­natti, tweeted: “Mr Trump’s dis­clo­sure to­day con­clu­sively proves that the Amer­i­can peo­ple were de­ceived. This was NOT an ac­ci­dent and it was not iso­lated. Cover-ups should al­ways mat­ter.”

Stormy Daniels

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