Trump discloses Stormy Daniels settlement

Published: 17 May 2018 | Updated: 17 May 2018   

Online Desk

Was Trump's Stormy Daniels payment legal?

US President Donald Trump has officially disclosed his reimbursement to his lawyer, who paid a porn star to hush her claims of an affair.

The Office of Government Ethics found on Wednesday that Mr Trump ought to have revealed the payment in his previous financial disclosure.

The filing shows he paid Michael Cohen between $100,001 (£75,000) and $250,000 for expenses incurred in 2016.

Mr Trump previously denied knowing of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, BBC reports. 

The White House stated in a footnote to the filing that it was listing the payment "in the interest of transparency", and contended it did not have to make the disclosure.

However, the head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) wrote in a letter that "the payment made by Mr Cohen is required to be reported" in the liabilities section of the statement.

In his letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the OGE acting director said: "You may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing."

The deputy attorney general is overseeing the Department of Justice investigation into whether Trump aides colluded with alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Stormy Daniels says she had sex with Mr Trump at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006                 

The Stormy Daniels payment is a potential legal problem for the president because it could be seen as an illegal campaign contribution.

Mr Cohen, whose records relating to the settlement were seized in an FBI raid last month, is now reportedly under criminal investigation.

Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she that and Mr Trump had sex in a hotel room in Lake Tahoe, a resort area between California and Nevada, in 2006. Mr Trump's lawyer said his client "vehemently denies" the claim.

If the actress's account is true, the tryst would have happened just a few months after Melania Trump gave birth to the couple's son, Barron.

In April, Mr Trump said he was unaware Mr Cohen had paid Ms Daniels just before the 2016 election.

Mr Trump's payment to Mr Cohen was first confirmed a fortnight ago by Rudy Giuliani, another of the president's attorneys, in a television interview.

Mr Giuliani said the transaction was to keep Ms Daniels quiet about her "false and extortionist accusation" that she had sex with Mr Trump, suggesting her claim could have damaged his candidacy.

Later that week, the president said the newly hired Mr Giuliani needed time to "get his facts straight".

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee backed up the American intelligence community's findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election to help Mr Trump.

The panel's assessment contradicts a conclusion in March by the House Intelligence Committee rejecting allegations that the Kremlin had aimed to boost the Republican candidate's chances.

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