A top watchdog group has found a new way to target Trump over the Stormy Daniels scandal

Stormy Daniels. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed complaints Friday with the Department of Justice and Office of Government Ethics seeking an investigation into whether the payment to porn star Stormy Daniels was an unreported liability on President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure.
  • It’s yet another avenue people are opening up into the ongoing controversy.

Watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is seeking to have the $US130,000 payment made from President Donald Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 presidential election investigated as a potential unreported liability on Trump’s financial disclosure form, the group announced Friday.

CREW filed criminal and civil complaints with the Department of Justice and Office of Government Ethics, asking them to probe whether Trump knowingly omitted the information from his public disclosure. It cited recent reports that Cohen expected to be reimbursed for the loan after making the payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as part of a nondisclosure agreement. Clifford alleged that she and Trump began an affair at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

If the payment by Cohen was a loan that Trump was expected to reimburse, the president would be legally responsible to disclose it as a liability, CREW wrote.Cohen has said the money was his own.

“The more we learn about the Stormy Daniels matter, the more it looks like something is missing from the president’s financial disclosures,” Norm Eisen, former top ethics adviser to President Barack Obama and a CREW board member, said in a statement. “If he failed to disclose this situation, we must ask, what else is he hiding?”

The controversy around the alleged affair heated back up this week. On Tuesday, Clifford’s lawyer filed a civil lawsuit against Trump arguing the non-disclosure agreement was invalid because Trump never signed it.

Asked during Wednesday’s press briefing whether Trump approved that payment, Sanders said “this case has already been won in arbitration,” and that it was won “in the president’s favour.”

It was the first time the White House acknowledged the president was involved with Clifford in legal proceedings. Her lawyer denied that such a legal victory took place.

On Friday, NBC News reported that Cohen used his Trump Organisation email while arranging to transfer the money into a Manhattan bank account before making the wire transfer to Clifford. That could lead to more legal complications as a result of the episode.

“Trump’s lawyer withdrew the $US130K for the Stormy Daniel payment using his Trump Org email address – suggesting the money may have been withdrawn from a Trump Org corporate account,” Brendan Fischer, federal and FEC reform program director at the Campaign Legal Center, tweeted. “The hush payment is looking more like an illegal corporate contribution.”