Financial disclosures from US President Donald Trump revealed on Wednesday that he reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen for a sum exceeding $100,000 last year.
The report covering 2017 did not disclose what the expenses related to, but its release comes amid controversy over a payment of $130,000 by Mr Cohen to Stephanie Clifford, an adult movie actress who says she had an affair with Mr Trump.
The president originally told reporters in April that he had been unaware of Mr Cohen’s payment to Ms Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, shortly before the 2016 election.
But Mr Trump changed tack this month and wrote on Twitter that Mr Cohen had entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Ms Clifford to “stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair”, and that the money paid had been reimbursed.
A footnote to the president’s disclosure form said that Mr Cohen had sought reimbursement of the expenses and that they had been fully paid in 2017. It quantified the sum in a range of $100,001-$250,000, at a zero interest rate. The footnote said the disclosure of the liability to Mr Cohen was not required by law but was done in the interests of transparency.
However, in a separate note the Office of Government Ethics, which released the report, said the information met the disclosure requirements for a “reportable liability”.
The OGE also published a letter from its acting director David Apol to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney-general, referring to a request by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for an investigation into whether Mr Cohen’s payment should have been reported in Mr Trump’s report covering 2016.
Based on the information provided “the payment made by Mr Cohen is required to be reported as a liability”, the letter said. “I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing regarding the President’s prior report that was signed on June 14, 2017.”