CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington—Following the release of President Trump’s 2018 public financial disclosures, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today filed a criminal complaint against the president, calling for an investigation into whether he knowingly and willfully failed to report Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels as a liability on his 2017 public financial disclosures.
After much reporting and multiple complaints from CREW, President Trump disclosed the liability to Cohen on his just-released 2018 disclosures, as he was legally required to do, which raises the question of whether he knowingly kept the loan secret, in violation of federal law, before it was public knowledge
Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director David Apol today sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein referencing a prior CREW complaint on the matter, explaining that OGE has determined that the loan must be disclosed in case that is relevant to any inquiry the Department of Justice is conducting relevant to the president’s 2017 financial disclosure.
“The president has an obligation to be transparent and truthful about his financial interests, and knowingly failing to do so can be a serious criminal offense,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “We cannot effectively judge his motivations and his influences without him providing truthful financial information as required by law.”
Failure to properly disclose information required to be reported can result in civil penalties of up to $50,000 and criminal penalties including imprisonment of up to one year for knowingly and willfully failing to report required information. Federal law further prohibits anyone from knowingly and willfully making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch, with violations punishable by up to five years in prison.
“There is substantial evidence that President Trump had knowledge of the loan when he filed his public financial disclosures last year, despite his failure to report it,” Bookbinder said. “If the department is not already investigating the president’s failure to disclose the loan last year, it should open an investigation immediately.”