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Top Democrat calls for investigation into Stormy Daniels payment

Giuliani's new statement on Trump payment

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is urging his Republican counterpart on the committee to launch an investigation into whether Michael Cohen's payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels violated federal law. 

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News' Sean Hannity Wednesday night that Mr. Trump "reimbursed" Cohen for the $130,000 payment Cohen made to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, right before the 2016 presidential election. 

Mr. Trump seemed to confirm the repayment on Twitter the following morning, with both he and Giuliani emphasizing there was no campaign finance violation, in their view, since the repayment wasn't from campaign coffers. But on Friday, Mr. Trump said Giuliani didn't know all the details at the time and will "get his facts straight." Giuliani issued a statement intended "to clarify" his earlier comments, which didn't necessarily correct anything he had previously said about the payment. 

On Friday, Cummings sent a letter to committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, asking him to obtain documents that could shed light on the Clifford payment, and any related actions Mr. Trump took. Last month, Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One he was unaware of Cohen's $130,000 payment to Clifford. 

"As a preliminary matter, this revelation appears to directly contradict President Trump's statements on Air Force One on April 5, 2018, that he knew nothing about this payment," Cummings wrote. 

"Although President Trump and Mr. Giuliani appear to be arguing against potential prosecution for illegal campaign donations, they have now opened up an entirely new legal concern—that the president may have violated federal law when he concealed the payment to Ms. Clifford and his reimbursements for this payment by omitting them from his annual financial disclosure form."

The Ethics in Government Act, passed in 1978, requires federal officials to publicly disclose financial liabilities that might affect decision-making for Americans, Cummings explained. That law requires disclosure for any liabilities exceeding $10,000. Cohen's payment to Clifford was $130,000. 

Mr. Trump hasn't clarified when he learned about Cohen's payment to Daniels. On Friday, Mr. Trump insisted that he isn't "changing any stories" about the payment to Clifford. 

"I'm not changing any stories," he told reporters. "All I'm telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth. And to be bringing up that kind of crap, and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time -- that's all you want to talk about."

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