Rep. Elijah Cummings says Trump 'may have violated' law by not disclosing debt to lawyer Michael Cohen for porn star Stormy Daniels hush money

Key Points
  • Rep. Elijah Cummings said President Donald Trump may have broken the law by not disclosing last year a debt to his lawyer Michael Cohen for a payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
  • Daniels says Cohen paid her for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006.
  • Rudy Giuliani, another lawyer for Trump, revealed this week for the first time that the president reimbursed Cohen for the money paid to the actress.
Trump may have broke law by not disclosing debt to Cohen for Daniels
Trump may have broke law by not disclosing debt to Cohen for Daniels

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings on Friday said President Donald Trump may have broken the law by not disclosing a debt to his personal lawyer for paying porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair with the president.

Cummings, in a letter, said Trump failed to note his reimbursement to his attorney Michael Cohen when he filed his annual government financial disclosure last June.

Cummings noted that under federal law "it is a crime to knowingly and willfully make a false and fraudulent representation to a federal office or entity."

That suggestion that Trump broke the law, which Cummings now wants the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate, was triggered by Trump's belated admission Thursday that he had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels.

Cummings, of Maryland, asked the committee's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to join him in asking Trump and his presidential campaign for documents related to the payment.

The White House had no immediate comment on Cummings' letter.

Cohen is already under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York City, where FBI agents last month seized records from the lawyer related to the payoff to Daniels.

The adult film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had sex with Trump in 2006.

She also says that Cohen agreed to pay her $130,000 right before the 2016 presidential election to not talk about that tryst.

President Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels.
Getty Images

Cohen had denied that Trump ever reimbursed him for that payment, and the president had denied knowing about the deal his lawyer cut with Daniels.

But Wednesday night, another lawyer for Trump, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, revealed that the president had paid Cohen back for the money to Daniels.

Trump a day later confirmed he had made a series of monthly retainer payments to Cohen that covered the reimbursement.

Both the president and Giuliani have said the payment to Daniels by Cohen had nothing to do with the presidential election. But others have said that Trump may have violated election law by not disclosing the payment by his lawyer, which kept Daniels silent in the days before voters went to polling booths.

Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney, walks to the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City.
Getty Images

Cummings, in the letter released Friday, said that Trump and Giuliani, in arguing "against potential prosecution for illegal campaign donations ... have now opened up an entirely new legal concern."

"That the President may have violated federal law when he concealed the payment to Ms. Clifford and his reimbursements for this payment by omitting them from his annual financial forms," Cummings wrote.

The Office of Government Ethics, Cummings noted, has issued regulations requiring federal officials "to disclose any liability over $10,000 'owed to any creditor at any time during the reporting period,'" as well as the names of any creditors.

But Cummings said that Trump, in his government financial disclosure form signed June 14, 2017, "did not disclose any liability to Mr. Cohen or any reimbursement for that liability."

"Although fees for legal services rendered may be exempt from disclosure ... President Trump's payment to Mr. Cohen was not for legal services," Cummings wrote.