A key House Democrat suggested that lawyers for President Donald Trump and the White House may have provided false information to a government ethics office about his involvement in hush payments during the 2016 campaign by women alleging affairs with him.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote Friday in a letter to the White House that internal notes taken by Office of Government Ethics officials indicate that some of Trump’s lawyers gave them “evolving stories” about the payments and money that Trump owed to his lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, for making them.
Cohen, who is headed to prison in part for his role in these payments, said in his guilty plea that he acted “in coordination with” and “at the direction of” the president. Cohen also said this was for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election.
“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, a Maryland Democrat, said in the letter addressed to new White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
“This raises significant questions about why some of the president’s closest advisers made these false claims and the extent to which they were acting at the direction of, or in coordination with, the president,” he said.
The letter also details that the president filed a financial disclosure statement with the ethics office covering the period from January 2016 through April 15, 2017 making no mention of any liability to Cohen.
Cummings said notes from ethics office officials say that from March 22 to April 26, 2018, Trump’s personal lawyer Sheri Dillon was telling them that Trump never owed any money to Cohen in 2016 and 2017.