Attorney Norm Eisen, chairman of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics watchdog group says that he has serious concerns that President Donald Trump may have filed a false federal financial disclosure during the 2016 campaign based on a new bombshell report that Trump reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 so-called “hush” payment to a porn star.
“The president filed federal financial disclosures,” explained Eisen on CNN Wednesday night. “He filed them under penalty, false statement penalty, 18 USC 1001, and he did not reveal that he had a liability to Michael Cohen. Now it will depend on the timing issue, but potentially the president filed a false federal financial disclosure under criminal penalty.” Eisen did emphasize, however, that if Trump was unaware of the payment at the time of the campaign disclosure, he may be in the clear.
“If that’s the end of the story, then that’s okay but we have reasons to believe that the president may have known (about Cohen’s payment at the time),” Eisen said.
On the day Trump reportedly hired star attorney Emmet Flood, who has a history of arguing successfully along the lines of executive privilege, his other newly hired personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said that Trump did in fact repay Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
Giuliani told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that the money was “funneled … through the law firm and the president repaid it.”
“[Trump] didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients,” Giuliani said. “I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
Giuliani asserted that the payment “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal” because “that money was not campaign money.”
Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti reacted by saying this was a “stunning revelation,” and said Trump “evidently […] participated in a felony.”
Eisen said this may prove “our @CREWcrew complaint that Trump broke the law by failing to disclose the loan from Cohen on his federal presidential financial disclosures.” Earlier this year, CREW filed a complaint with the DOJ and the Office of Government Ethics claiming that Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels may be illegal because it could be considered a loan to the President that should have been reported on his public financial disclosure.
Trump, you may recall, when asked in early April about the alleged Daniels payment on Air Force One said “You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is my attorney, you’ll have to ask him.”
When asked pointedly if he knew about the Stormy Daniels payment, Trump replied “No.” When asked why his lawyer Michael Cohen made the payment, he said “ask Michael Cohen.”
Finally, when asked if he knew where the money came from, Trump said, “No, I don’t know.”
[Image via CNN screengrab]
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