Report: Hiding cash to Stormy Daniels broke law
President Donald Trump — already implicated in campaign finance violations over a hush payment issued to adult film actress Stormy Daniels — likely committed other crimes by failing to disclose that payoff in his sworn financial disclosure last year, a new report reveals, according to government ethics experts.
A Wall Street Journal report published Friday corroborates Michael Cohen's guilty plea from earlier this year, which implicated Trump in committing campaign f i nance crimes by authorizing Cohen to pay Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about allegedly having sex with him.
However, the report also reveals previously unknown details about Trump's involvement and awareness of a scheme his corporate lawyer Allen Weisselberg set up to reimburse Cohen — which ethics experts say prove the president broke false-statement laws since he willfully omitted that debt in his 2017 financial disclosure form.
Shortly after Trump's election, Cohen and Weisselberg met to discuss reimbursing Cohen for the payment he made to Daniels, according to the Journal.
At Trump's direction, Weisselberg then reportedly designed a plan in which Cohen would be paid monthly installments of $35,000, which were docked in Trump's financial records as legal fees.
Trump's financial disclosure form submitted in June 2017 did not list that hush payment debt to Cohen.
At the time, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — an organization led by Walter Shaub, the government ethics czar in the Obama administration — filed a criminal complaint with the Justice Department alleging Trump deliberately left out the Daniels payment from his disclosure filings — a crime that could bring five years of imprisonment.
However, CREW's complaint lacked evidence Trump had willfully omit- ted the debt.
The Journal's report fills in the gap, Shaub said.
“The report shows Trump was deeply involved in the negotiations and plans for repayment and even took steps to conceal that the payment came from him,” Shaub said, referencing the entry in Trump's bookkeeping that refers to Cohen's reimbursement as legal fees.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lawyer, blasted the report as “unsourced speculation.”