COMMENTARY ON LAWYERING, LANGUAGE, AND POLITICS
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
CREW Supplements Criminal Coplaint against Trump for non-disclosure of debt to Cohen
from the CREW Press Release
Washington—President Trump appears to have violated federal law by failing to disclose that he owed his attorney the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, according to a supplemental criminal and ethics complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
On March 8th, CREW, along with its Board Chair Norman Eisen, requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) investigate whether the payment made by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen constituted a loan which Trump intended to repay and which he would then have been required to report on the public financial disclosure form he filed last year. Newly hired Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared to confirm that it was a loan and that the president subsequently repaid it in interviews with Fox News, The Washington Post and The New York Times last night.
“There is now more than enough evidence for the DOJ to investigate whether President Trump intentionally omitted the Stormy Daniels liability from his personal financial disclosures,” Eisen said. “This is a very serious matter, including because there can be criminal penalties for false statements.”
Trump was legally required to disclose any liability in excess of $10,000. He signed his financial disclosures attesting that they were complete and true, despite the absence of the payment.
“It’s not often that the president’s lawyer goes on television and appears to confirm one of our complaints,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The president has an obligation to be transparent and truthful about his financial interests, and failing to do so can be not just an ethics violation, but also a serious criminal offense. The DOJ and OGE must launch a thorough investigation and take any and all appropriate action.”