US & World

Stormy Daniels: Trump discloses payment to reimburse lawyer


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Media captionWas Trump’s Stormy Daniels payment legal?

US President Donald Trump has officially disclosed his reimbursement to his lawyer for a payment to a porn star to hush her claims of an affair.

The Office of Government Ethics found on Wednesday that Mr Trump ought to have revealed the payment in his previous financial disclosure.

The filing shows he paid back Michael Cohen for a 2016 expense of between $100,001 (£75,000) and $250,000.

Mr Trump previously denied knowing of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.

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Media captionStormy Daniels: “I was threatened”

The White House stated in a footnote to the filing that it was listing the payment “in the interest of transparency”, even though it 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 Mr Cohen is required to be reported as a liability”.

In his letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the OGE acting director says he is sending the president’s latest financial disclosure and last year’s one.

The ethics chief writes to Mr Rosenstein that “you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing”.

The deputy attorney general is overseeing the Department of Justice 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.

Mr Cohen, whose records relating to the settlement were seized in an FBI raid last month, is now reportedly under criminal investigation.

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Stormy Daniels

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Stormy Daniels says she had sex with Mr Trump at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006

In April, Mr Trump said he was unaware Mr Cohen had paid Ms Daniels just before the 2016 election.

Mr Trump’s payment to Mr Cohen was first confirmed a fortnight ago by Rudy Giuliani, another of the president’s attorneys, in a television interview.

Mr Giuliani said the transaction was to keep Ms Daniels quiet about her “false and extortionist accusation” that she had sex with Mr Trump, suggesting her claim could have damaged his candidacy.

Later that week, the president said the newly hired Mr Giuliani needed time to “get his facts straight”.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee backed up the American intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election to help Mr Trump.

The panel’s assessment contradicts a conclusion in March by the House Intelligence Committee rejecting allegations that the Kremlin had aimed to boost the Republican candidate’s chances.

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AFP/Getty

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Mr Trump earned $100,000-$1m in royalties from “Art of the Deal” in 2017

What else did we learn?

The disclosure shows millions in 2017 income from rents, licences, book and television royalties, company shares, hotel management fees and golf courses, with interests that span the globe from India to Dubai.

The president even collected pensions, including $64,804 from the Screen Actors Guild.

The report provides a glimpse of how the president’s business fared during his first year in office, though comparisons are difficult since his prior disclosure covered 16 months.

His Washington hotel in a former Post Office building brought in more than $40m in 2017, its first full year in operation.

His golf courses, including the president’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Springs, did not appear to see major gains, despite frequent visits from the president.

Mar-a-Lago contributed $25m in income, compared to about $37m on the previous report. (Assuming the property performs evenly throughout the year, Mar-a-Lago would have brought in about $28m in 2016.)

The president reported royalties from his 1987 book Art of the Deal in the same $100,000-$1m range as he did last year – and sales for some of his lesser titles picked up.

Many of his shareholdings are in mutual and index funds, rather than the cross-section of American companies he once owned.



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