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 to Cohen.
The problem for Trump, as highlighted in the letter of Cummings, is that the previous disclosures made by Trump are not the same as the disclosures made by Cohen.
- Trump’s May financial disclosure said he reimbursed Cohen for a 2016 $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
- 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, Trump identified the value of the reimbursement between $100,001-$250,000.
- That raised some eyebrows as 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. However 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.