More potential criminal exposure for crime family head Donald "Rump" Trump and his fixer/ consigliere Michael Cohen:
President Donald Trump reported having paid his personal attorney Michael Cohen more than $100,000 as a reimbursement for a payment made to a third party, documents released on Wednesday confirmed.
A reason for the payment to Cohen was not specified in the federally required financial disclosure that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) released, The New York Times reported.
The disclosure notes that though Cohen made the payment in 2016, Trump didn’t fully reimburse him for it until 2017. [snip]
Trump’s financial disclosure on Wednesday, which only covers the 2017 calendar year, immediately raised concern among government watchdog groups over its timing.
David J. Apol, the acting director of the OGE, sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday. In the letter, he noted that Trump’s payment to Cohen “should have been reported as a liability on his public financial disclosure report” for the 2016 calendar year, which the president signed in June 2017. (our emphasis)Some reactions:
NEW: Ethics office sending letter to Rod Rosenstein stating that Michael Cohen's payment on behalf of Trump was a debt and may be relevant to "any inquiry" Rosenstein may be pursuing. pic.twitter.com/e22Jfuozic— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) May 16, 2018
Wow, this is essentially a criminal referral to DOJ for Trump making a false statement in his previous financial disclosure. https://t.co/4yhHnqcNmf— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 16, 2018
Fascinated by OGE’s decision to make this referral public. Leaves DOJ no choice but to open at least a preliminary investigation into Trump for false statements (if he wasn’t already a subject in the Cohen inquiry, which he might be).— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 16, 2018
The former Director of Government Ethics agrees:
This is tantamount to a criminal referral. OGE has effectively reported the president to DOJ for potentially committing a crime. Dave Apol comes through in the end!! https://t.co/8LhDQZS8pF— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) May 16, 2018
Leaving the payments off of earlier disclosure forms can also be seen as "consciousness of guilt," in that Rump would know that acknowledging the payments would implicate him in the Stormy Daniels affair. But lying on a federal financial disclosure form carries much more exposure than embarrassment for Rump and whoever prepared the form =cough= Cohen =cough=; it could carry civil or criminal penalties. Looks like something the Mueller team and/ or the Southern District of New York prosecutors will be looking at carefully.