February 5, 2023

The government ethics office just sent the Justice Department a “criminal referral” for Trump

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It’s not exactly his tax returns, but Donald Trump just had to get very transparent with the American people about his financial indiscretions.


The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) released Trump’s annual financial disclosure forms and as expected, the records acknowledge a reimbursement made to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen to the tune of $130,000 – otherwise known as the Stormy Daniels hush payment.

The document was signed and dated by the president on Tuesday, May 16, 2018 and included a footnote about Cohen:

“In the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as ‘reportable liabilities’ on Part 8, in 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen.

Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $100,001 – $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero.”

The acting director of OGE (which should just become everyone’s permanent title in the Trump era since every position is temporary) added a letter addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein specifically acknowledging the disclosure of the repayment:

David J. Apol, the acting director (who will probably be fired by Trump for his honesty), was forced to admit that Trump had lied on his 2017 disclosure by failing to include the payment to Cohen, an error rectified on the 2018 report:

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“Today, I certified President Trump’s financial disclosure report signed on May 15, 2018 (for calendar year 2017). OGE has concluded that, based on the information provided as a note to part 8, the payment made by Mr, Cohen is required to be reported as a liability. OGE has determined the the information provided in that note meets the disclosure requirements for a reportable liability under the Ethics in Government Act.”

The former chief of the Office of Government Ethics, who resigned in protest last year, took to Twitter to explain just what this means for the rest of us:

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Should the Department of Justice and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein choose to act upon this information, it could be the beginning of serious legal trouble for the president.

In any case, the skeletons that Daniels and her lawyer Michael Avenatti have pulled out of the president and his lawyer’s collective closet of criminal misdeeds have provoked a slew of new probes and legal issues that could end very poorly for the president.

When Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford started her adult career twenty years ago, would she have ever dreamed her crowning achievement would be to bring down the new millennium’s Nixon?

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Salvatore Nicholas

Salvatore is a producer, political writer, comedian and LGBTQ activist (in no particular order). He resides in Los Angeles with his two cats and encyclopedic knowledge of Britney's discography.

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