Re­port: Hid­ing cash to Stormy Daniels broke law

Hartford Courant - - From Page One - By Chris Som­mer­feldt New York Daily News

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.”


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