Cummings Requests Documents on President Trump’s Failure to Accurately Report Payments to Michael Cohen

Sep 12, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 12, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II and the Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization George Sorial requesting documents relating to President Donald Trump’s failure to accurately report debts and payments to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for silencing women who alleged extramarital affairs before the election.

“Mr. Cohen’s testimony—and documents obtained by the Department of Justice—reveal that these payments were far greater than previously reported and far higher than President Trump listed in his financial disclosure forms pursuant to federal law,” Cummings wrote.  “These payments include a number of increases, bonuses, and anomalies that raise even more questions about the nature and scope of the services President Trump obtained from Mr. Cohen.”

The Ethics in Government Act requires federal officials, including the President, to publicly disclose financial liabilities that could affect their decision-making.  It is a crime under federal law to knowingly and willfully make a false or fraudulent representation to a federal office or entity or to use “any false writing or document” that contains such a false or fraudulent representation.

When President Trump submitted his first financial disclosure form on June 14, 2017, he did not disclose any liabilities or reimbursements to Cohen.  When President Trump submitted his second financial disclosure form on May 15, 2018, he reported that he “fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017” for payments Cohen made before the election, but the President did not explain why he failed to report his debts to Cohen in his first financial disclosure form a year earlier.  In addition, in listing the amount he paid to Mr. Cohen, he reported:  “The category of value would be $100,001 - $250,000.”

However, on August 21, 2018, Cohen admitted in federal court that President Trump, through the Trump Organization, actually paid him a total of $420,000 in monthly installments of $35,000 over the course of 2017.  Cohen said the payments were reimbursements for payments he made “in coordination with and at the direction of” Mr. Trump, then a candidate for President, to silence women “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”

Ranking Member Cummings explained in his letter today that he is seeking documents from the White House and the Trump Organization because Chairman Trey Gowdy has refused to investigate this issue.

“On May 4, 2018, I sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy raising serious concerns about President Trump’s failure to report these payments to Mr. Cohen on his first financial disclosure form,” Ranking Member Cummings wrote.  “In addition, on August 22, 2018, I sent a follow-up letter asking Chairman Gowdy to hold a hearing to obtain testimony directly from Mr. Cohen after he pleaded guilty and indicated that he was willing to testify before Congress. Chairman Gowdy never responded to these requests, and the Committee took no action, requested no documents, conducted no interviews, obtained no briefings, and held no hearings.”

Click here to read today’s letter.

115th Congress