March 8, 2018

On March 2, 2018, CREW requested that OGE exercise its oversight responsibilities to determine whether President Trump held a beneficial interest in the LLC, Essential Consultants LLC, that should have been reported as an asset on the OGE 278 report he filed in June 2017. Newly reported information now also suggests that President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen or Essential Consultants LLC made a loan to President Trump for which Mr. Cohen expected to be reimbursed after making a $130,000 payment on behalf of President Trump to a third party as part of a nondisclosure agreement. If it was a loan, President Trump seemingly violated federal law by failing to disclose it as a liability on his OGE 278.

In light of the emerging evidence, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) respectfully requests that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) investigate and determine whether a surreptitious payment made to a third party shortly before the 2016 presidential election by President Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney or a limited liability company (“LLC”) the attorney created constituted a loan to President Trump that he should have reported as a liability on his public financial disclosure (“OGE 278”) report, and if President Trump knowingly and willfully failed to report it.

Click here to read the letter.

Update: On May 3, 2018, CREW filed a supplemental ethics complaint after substantial evidence came to support the fact that Trump may have knowingly failed to violate federal law by failing to disclose Michael Cohen’s loan as a liability. Click here to read the complaint.

Update: On May 17, 2018, CREW filed another supplemental ethics complaint after President Trump disclosed the liability to Cohen on his just-released 2018 disclosures, which raises the question of whether he knowingly kept the loan secret, in violation of federal law, before it was public knowledge. Click here to read the complaint.