A top Democrat is taking aim at a curious discrepancy between Trump's financial disclosure and what Michael Cohen and federal prosecutors laid out in his plea deal
- A top Democrat is taking aim at President Donald Trump's most recent financial disclosure.
- Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is requesting a trove of documents related to the disclosure and reimbursements made to Trump's former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
- Cummings zeroes in on a discrepancy between the financial disclosure and what prosecutors laid out as a part of Cohen's recent plea deal.
A top Democrat is taking aim at a discrepancy in President Donald Trump's most recent financial disclosure, requesting a trove of documents from the White House and the Trump Organization related to the reimbursement of the president's former lawyer's hush payments to women.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requested that White House counsel Donald McGahn a top Trump Organization executive provide all documents and communications related to hush money reimbursements by Trump or the Trump Organization to Cohen, according to a letter provided to Business Insider on Wednesday.Cummings also requested all documents related to Trump's two most recent financial disclosures, among others related to the Cohen payments.
In the letter, Cummings zeroes in on a discrepancy:
- Trump's May financial disclosure said he reimbursed Cohen for a 2016 $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleged an affair with Trump years ago.
- It was not disclosed in his 2017 report, which was filed months after Cohen began to be reimbursed for the expenditure.
- In his 2018 financial disclosure report, the value of the reimbursement was listed as between $100,001-$250,000.
- That raised some eyebrows at the time because Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said earlier in May that the Trump reimbursed Cohen in excess of $400,000. Former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub tweeted then that Giuliani "may have lied" when he said Trump paid Cohen that much money.
In an interview with Business Insider shortly after the financial disclosure was reported, Giuliani said $130,000 was "the specific amount that I said" Trump reimbursed Cohen.
But in information made public by federal prosecutors last month after Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of federal crimes, prosecutors said Cohen was reimbursed for $420,000 by Trump's business for his expenses.
According to the court filings, Cohen submitted an invoice in January 2017 requesting $180,000 - which included $130,000 for the payment he facilitated to Daniels and $50,000 for "tech services." Prosecutors said Trump Organization officials listed in the filings inflated that total to $420,000, which would be paid to Cohen in installments of $35,000, a monthly retainer fee throughout 2017.
The company accounted for those monthly payments as legal expenses, according to the court filing."In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and the monthly invoices Cohen submitted were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017," prosecutors wrote.
Cummings highlighted that discrepancy between Trump's financial disclosure and what was presented by prosecutors in their filing. The Democratic lawmaker asked why Trump hasn't amended his financial disclosure, since the reimbursement revealed by Cohen and the Justice Department totaled much more than $250,000.
By not doing so, Cummings said Trump is failing to comply with the law.
"These payments include a number of increases, bonuses, and anomalies that raise even more questions about the nature and scope of the services President Trump obtained from Mr. Cohen," Cummings wrote.
Cummings asked multiple questions in addition to why the payment wasn't listed as greater than $250,000 and why the disclosure has yet to be amended. Those questions included why didn't Trump report a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal as a liability, and whether Trump or the Trump Organization made any other similar payments that have yet to be disclosed.