President Trump's 2018 financial disclosure form says"Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $100,001 - $250,000."— Steve Reilly (@BySteveReilly) August 21, 2018
DOJ: Cohen "received monthly $35,000 reimbursement checks, totaling $420,000." pic.twitter.com/8hfLDG2p3r
President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including campaign violations, as well as bank and tax fraud.
As part of his plea deal, Cohen also turned over evidence that suggested the Trump Organization, the real estate company owned by the president, was part of a scheme to funnel money to him in order to pay off and silence in an undetectable manner two women who had allegedly had affairs with Trump years ago.
In total, $420,000 was paid by the Trump Organization to Cohen in order to reimburse the payments he made that eventually reached adult actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both who said in the past they had affairs with the president before he ran for office.
Those payments were not disclosed on elections paperwork, a possible violation of campaign finance law. It’s unclear what consequences could come about for Trump if the allegations of him lying about his payments to Cohen on campaign paperwork are true, but the former Trump lawyer himself will likely spend some time in prison for his role in the scheme, which could indicate what the severity of these allegations truly are.
Cohen further alleged that the payments he made to Daniels and McDougal came from Trump’s orders personally, corroborating audio tape that leaked last month of Trump seemingly doing so. The payments were made “in coordination and at the direction of [Trump]...for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” according to court documents filed on Tuesday during Cohen's plea hearing.
For McDougal, Cohen arranged payments with American Media Inc., which owns the National Inquirer, to pay McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story. They then killed the article, never publishing it and leaving McDougal unable to discuss it with another publication or speak about it openly.
The payments to Daniels came directly from Cohen’s own accounts, for which he was reimbursed by the Trump Organization. The details of those reimbursements were made in the court documents as well; Cohen sent an invoice of $180,035 to the company in January 2017, to pay for the $130,000 payment to Daniels, $50,000 to a tech company he used during the campaign, and $35 for a wire transfer fee.
Those reimbursement payments began in February 2017, shortly after Trump was inaugurated as president. The Trump Organization ended up paying Cohen more than he had requested.
“Executives of the [Trump Organization] ‘grossed up’ for tax purposes Cohen's requested reimbursement of $180,000 to $360,000, and then added a bonus of $60,000 so that Cohen would be paid $420,000 in total,” prosecutors allege.
Cohen was subsequently paid $35,000 per month for the next year.
No official comment has been made as of yet from the Trump administration or from his legal representatives. But Trump on Wednesday morning tried to suggest in a tweet that Cohen was lying, that he had to “make up stories in order to get a ‘deal’” with federal prosecutors to shorten his sentence for tax evasion crimes unrelated to the president.
That assertion from the president is now put into question, particularly given the documents Cohen submitted to the court on Tuesday. Trump is in heaps of trouble, and if he wants to survive this mess, he’s going to have to come up with a better defense.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Carlo Allegri/Reuters