- Rudy Giuliani says there is no discrepancy between his past statements and President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure, which was released Wednesday.
- $US130,000 was “the specific amount that I said,” Giuliani told Business Insider of the reimbursement to Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
- Cohen facilitated a $US130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
- Trump listed the reimbursement to Cohen in his financial disclosure report.
- Giuliani says the inclusion “vindicates” their position.
President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told Business Insider that new information about the president’s reimbursement of longtime lawyer Michael Cohen does not undercut his previous statements on the issue.
In his 2018 financial disclosure report, Trump revealed that he reimbursed Cohen after his $US130,000 payment to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which Cohen had facilitated just before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels said she had an affair with Trump in 2006, and Cohen made the payment to keep her from discussing that in the press. She is now suing Cohen.
The disclosure form, released Wednesday, says the payment’s value was between $US100,001-$US250,000.
But some legal and ethics experts saw a discrepancy with Giuliani’s past statements.
Giuliani told The New York Times that Trump had paid Cohen about $US460,000 or $US470,000 in 2017 through a monthly retainer of $US35,000, which he said included “incidental expenses.” The comment does provide some room for the $US130,000 to be a part of that larger sum.
In an earlier interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, however, Giuliani had said that Cohen was doing “no work for the president.” He said the retainer was how he was being repaid for the Daniels expense “with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael.”
Giuliani: The disclosure ‘vindicates our position’
In an interview with Business Insider, Giuliani said $US130,000 was “the specific amount that I said.”
“And I also said it was reimbursed,” he continued. “So I think it vindicates our position.”
The Office of Government Ethics disagreed with Trump’s assessment on the form that the payment was not required to be disclosed and instead should have been reported on Trump’s 2017 filing.
“OGE has concluded that the information related to the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported and that the information provided meets the disclosure requirement for a reportable liability,” the agency wrote.
David Apol, the director of the OGE, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying he “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.”
“This is tantamount to a criminal referral,”said Walter Shaub, the former director of the OGE under Trump who has since become one of his chief critics. “OGE has effectively reported the president to DOJ for potentially committing a crime.”
Giuliani said he takes issue with whether the payment “even had to be disclosed” at all.
“I don’t think he’s right,” Giuliani said of Apol. “I think it is an expenditure that was reimbursed. Not a liability. I don’t think the form calls for expenditures. And then second, it would have given a false impression that” Trump knew about the reimbursement if it was disclosed “back in 2017. He didn’t know about it.”
Shaub tweeted that Giuliani “may have lied” when he said Trump paid Cohen as much as $US460,000 through the retainer.
“In turn, that means that Trump committed a crime if the omission was ‘knowing and willful,” Shaub wrote. “Trump may be wondering today whether the information DOJ seized from Cohen’s office included any emails or other documents showing he knew of the debt when he filed last year’s report.”
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