Trump discloses payment to attorney who paid off porn star

US President Donald Trump repaid his attorney Michael Cohen for an expense greater than U$100,001 and less than US$250,000 incurred in 2016, according to ethics disclosures that were released by the Office of Government Ethics.
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in New York City on April 16, 2018; US President Donald Trump in Washington, Michigan, US on April 28, 2018.
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in New York City on April 16, 2018; US President Donald Trump in Washington, Michigan, US on April 28, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump has formally disclosed that he reimbursed his personal attorney more than US$100,000 (S$134,000) last year, apparently in connection with the payment of hush money to a porn star, government records show.

The disclosures, released Wednesday (May 16) by the US government ethics body, do not specify the reason for the payments to Michael Cohen, who paid US$130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had a tryst with Trump in 2006 while he was married. The president denies the affair, and initially denied all knowledge of the payment, which Cohen has acknowledged was intended to stop her from going public with the allegations.

Trump's claim began to unravel early this month, however, after Rudy Giuliani, a new member of the president's legal team, said Trump the president in fact reimbursed Cohen for the payments to Daniels.

A footnote to disclosures submitted Tuesday (May 15) to the Office of Government Ethics said Cohen had incurred "expenses" on Trump's behalf in 2016 of between US$100,001 and US$250,000.

"Mr Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr Trump fully reimbursed Mr Cohen in 2017," it said.

Clifford is suing to be released from the hush agreement, claiming it is invalid because Trump never signed it.

Cohen, meanwhile, now finds himself under investigation by federal prosecutors, who seized reams of evidence in raids on his home and office last month, but have not revealed what crimes he is accused of.

He also stands accused of seeking to cash in on his proximity to the president, after it emerged he received millions of dollars from a Russian oligarch and major corporations seeking access to the administration.

The financial documents published Wednesday also offered a glimpse of the performance of two of Trump's flagship hotels: the Trump International Hotel in Washington - which has attracted crowds of lobbyists, lawmakers and foreign governments with business before the federal government, and Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, dubbed the "Winter White House."

Trump's hotel in the US capital, which opened in late 2016, took in US$40.4 million during 2017 while the Florida resort had revenues of US$25.1 million last year.

A prior disclosure made last year covered a 16-month period and showed US$37.3 million in revenues for Mar-a-Lago.