The president’s financial disclosure revealed for the first time that he paid more than $100,000 to his personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, as reimbursement for payment to a third party.
President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure, released Wednesday, revealed for the first time that he paid more than $100,000 to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as reimbursement for payment to a third party.
The disclosure, released by the Office of Government Ethics, did not specify the purpose of the payment. However, Cohen has paid $130,000 to an adult film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who has claimed she had an affair with Trump.
Cohen has said he made the payment to keep the actress, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, from going public before the 2016 election with her story about an affair with Trump.
A footnote in the disclosure said that Cohen had requested reimbursement of the expenses incurred in 2016 and Trump had repaid it in full in 2017. It did not give an exact amount of the payment but said it was between $100,001 and $250,000.
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Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani had said previously that Cohen was paid $460,000 or $470,000 from Trump, which also included money for “incidental expenses” that he had incurred on Trump’s behalf.
Trump’s disclosure of the 2016 payment to Cohen raises the question of whether he erred in not reporting the debt on last year’s disclosure form. The document released Wednesday said that Trump was reporting the repaid debt “in the interest of transparency” but that it was “not required to be disclosed as reportable liabilities.”
Yet a letter accompanying the report sent to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, from David J. Apol, the government ethics office’s acting director, said that the Office of Government Ethics had determined “the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability.”
The 92-page disclosure covers only calendar year 2017, unlike last year’s filing, which spanned nearly a 16-month period. It also provides much less specificity than his tax returns, which he has refused to make public.
Still, the disclosure provides the first extended look at the performance of Trump’s Washington hotel, which opened in September 2016 and has become a magnet for lobbyists and Republican aides. The hotel is one of his best-performing properties and the disclosure listed revenues of $40.4 million.
And Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which the president frequents in the winter months, saw revenues of $25.1 million.
Last year’s filing listed revenues over a 16-month period at Mar-a-Lago of $37.3 million.
Other properties have not fared as well, including Trump National Doral, a golf resort near Miami, which is Trump’s biggest cash-flow generator. It reported revenue of $74.8 million. Revenue there had tumbled in the filing a year ago, even after a major renovation.
Individual performance aside, there are broader signs that the business is retreating somewhat during the first part of Trump’s presidency.
Since he took office, Trump’s name has been erased from three of his family company’s prized properties. His company has watched its pipeline of deals ebb and flow. And one new line of business it has pursued is limited to quietly managing other companies’ hotels that are unattached to its once-flashy brand.
The owners of struggling hotels in Toronto and New York have paid the Trumps millions of dollars to remove their name from the properties after the election. In Panama, a nasty feud engulfed the Trump hotel there when the majority owner wanted the Trumps out — leading to the Trump name being pried off with a crowbar.
The president’s company has also been stymied by some of the new ethics restrictions it voluntarily adopted after the election.
As part of a voluntary ethics plan, the Trump Organization has not pursued new deals in foreign countries, cutting off an important stream of business that was projected to provide much of its future revenue. The Trump Organization is also subjecting all new domestic projects to vetting from an outside ethics adviser, which appears to have had a chilling effect on certain potential deals: the company has yet to open a new hotel in the United States since Trump took office.
In a December interview, Trump’s son, Eric Trump, who is managing the business with his brother, Donald Trump Jr., told The New York Times that the Trump Organization did not have to answer to shareholders, so it had the freedom to slow new development.
“We have the best properties in the world; they’re doing extraordinarily well,” Eric Trump said. “And if we have to take a break for an eight-year period of time or a four-year period, then it is what it is.”