Ethics director questions Trump's reimbursement to lawyer

Ethics director questions Trump's reimbursement to lawyer

In new financial disclosure documents, President Donald Trump reported reimbursing his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for an expenditure over $100,000 past year - an apparent reference to the $130,000 that Cohen paid to ensure the silence of an adult-film actress who claimed she'd had an affair with Trump.

President Trump should have dislosed Michael Cohen's payment to Stormy Daniels in his financial disclosure report a year ago.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the OGE, and Adav Noti, senior director for the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group, wrote in an opinion article for USA Today earlier this week that Trump was legally obliged to include the payment in the latest disclosure and should have done so in the previous filing that he submitted a year ago.

The disclosure came as part of the president's annual financial report made Tuesday to the Office of Government Ethics, who reviewed and publicly released the file on Wednesday.

Mr Trump's latest disclosure filing said Mr Cohen incurred the expense in 2016 and that Mr Cohen "sought reimbursement" in 2017.

But the acting director of the ethics office, David Apol, in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said it should have been disclosed in ethics documents that Mr Trump filed in June 2017. "Cover-ups should always matter". "Mr Trump fully reimbursed Mr Cohen", the report said.

In other words, Trump was $130,000 in debt to Cohen before the reimbursement.

In the wake of the remarks, critics said that Trump had still broken campaign finance laws because he had not declared the payment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). His Doral golf course and resort in Miami took in $75 million. Daniels says she had an affair with the president.

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Trump earned at least $1.1 million from his operations in India, the most active location overseas for the Trump Organization, with at least four active real estate projects, in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Gurgaon, which is outside of New Delhi.

The Mar-a-Lago resort, where the president frequently escaped for winter weekends, collected more than $25 million last year, down from $37 million from last year's report.

All those 12-month figures are down from the president's previous report, but that earlier one covered about 14 months so it is not comparable.

The figures are before expenses and so give no indication of how much profit the president made off the properties. The agency reviewed the form and made it public on Wednesday.

Instead, he put his assets in a trust controlled by his two adult sons and a senior executive. But the president retains ownership of those businesses, through a trust, and can take money out of them at any time.

His report shows that Mr Trump received 64,840 dollars (£47,805) from the Screen Actors Guild pension fund. Mr Trump has appeared in several movies, including Home Alone 2 and Zoolander.

That means the debt was improperly omitted from last year's filing.

"It's not a loan", Giuliani told the New York Daily News.

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