President Donald Trump has officially disclosed his reimbursement to Michael Cohen, the lawyer who paid actress Stormy Daniels to hush up her claims of an affair.
The Office of Government Ethics found on Wednesday that Donald Trump ought to have revealed the payment in his previous financial disclosure.
The filing shows Donald Trump paid Michael Cohen between $100,001 and $250,000 for expenses incurred in 2016.
President Trump previously denied knowing of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
The White House stated in a footnote to the filing that it was listing the payment “in the interest of transparency”, and contended it did not have to make the disclosure.
However, the head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) wrote in a letter that “the payment made by Michael Cohen is required to be reported” in the liabilities section of the statement.
In his letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the OGE acting director said: “You may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing.”
The deputy attorney general is overseeing the DoJ investigation into whether Trump aides colluded with alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
The Stormy Daniels payment is a potential legal problem for the president because it could be seen as an illegal campaign contribution.
Michael Cohen, whose records relating to the settlement were seized in an FBI raid last month, is now reportedly under criminal investigation.
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges that she and Donald Trump had been in a hotel room in Lake Tahoe, a resort area between California and Nevada, in 2006. Michael Cohen said his client “vehemently denies” the claim.
If Stormy Daniels’ account is true, the tryst would have happened just a few months after Melania Trump gave birth to her son, Barron, whose father is Donald Trump.
Last month, President Trump said he was unaware Michael Cohen had paid Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election.
Donald Trump’s payment to Michael Cohen was first confirmed two weeks ago by Rudy Giuliani, another of the president’s attorneys, in a TV interview.
Rudy Giuliani said the transaction was to keep Stormy Daniels quiet about her “false and extortionist accusation” that she had an affair with Donald Trump, suggesting her claim could have damaged his candidacy.
Later that week, President Trump said the newly hired Rudy Giuliani needed time to “get his facts straight”.
On May 16, the Senate Intelligence Committee backed up the American intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election to help Donald Trump.
The panel’s assessment contradicts a conclusion in March by the House Intelligence Committee rejecting allegations that Russia had aimed to boost Donald Trump’s chances.
Donald Trump’s financial disclosure shows millions in 2017 income from rents, licenses, book and TV royalties, company shares, hotel management fees and golf courses, with interests from India to Dubai.
Trump’s Washington hotel in a former Post Office building brought in more than $40 million in 2017, its first full year in operation.
His golf courses, including the Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, did not appear to see major gains, despite frequent visits from the president.
Mar-a-Lago contributed $25 million in income, compared with about $37 million on the previous report.
President Trump reported royalties from his 1987 book The Art of the Deal in the same $100,000-$1 million range as he did last year – and sales for some of his lesser titles picked up.
Many of Donald Trump’s shareholdings are in mutual and index funds, rather than the cross-section of American companies he once owned.