Top Oversight Democrat says Trump's attorneys may have lied to officials about Cohen's hush money

Top Oversight Democrat says Trump's attorneys may have lied to officials about Cohen's hush money
Michael Cohen/Shutterstock
Michael Cohen/Shutterstock

On Friday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) suggested that he has evidence two of President Donald Trump's lawyers lied to federal ethics officials about hush payments made by the president's former private attorney Michael Cohen.

POLITICO was first to break the story:

"It now appears that President Trump's other attorneys — at the White House and in private practice — may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials," Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
Cummings named Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino as the two attorneys who might have made false statements to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), citing documents the committee obtained from the office.

The false statements from Trump's attorneys cited by Cummings' letter include telling OGE officials that Trump did not owe Cohen any money, and that the hush payments were part of a retainer agreement.

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to eight counts of bank fraud, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations for helping Trump broker a $130,000 payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, to cover up an affair between the two during the 2016 presidential campaign. In his statement to the court admitting his guilt, Cohen said Trump himself directed him to carry out the campaign finance crimes, which would itself be a crime.

Cohen has since also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump's plans to build a tower in Moscow.

Trump initially denied any knowledge of the payments by Cohen. He has since revised his denial, admitting that he knew about the payments "later on." His top lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has offered wildly inconsistent accounts of Trump's arrangement with Cohen, claiming that it broke no campaign finance law because they "funneled through a law firm."

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