Cohen Secretly Recorded a Dicey Talk With Trump

They discussed payment for ex-model alleging affair; Giuliani hears nothing damaging
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2018 12:31 PM CDT
Cohen Recorded Conversation With Trump About Payment
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

The New York Times is out with a potentially big scoop regarding former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. It seems that when FBI agents raided his office in April, they found a recording that Cohen secretly made of a conversation between him and Trump two months before the election. The newspaper says the men discuss payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who allegedly had an affair with Trump. Both CNN and the Washington Post confirm the recording's existence, as does Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. While the recording could factor into the investigation of whether Trump ran afoul of campaign finance laws, Giuliani hears nothing damaging in it. No payment was ever made, he says. What's more, Trump in the recording advises Cohen that if he did make a payment, it should be by check so it could be documented.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” said Giuliani, seeing it as good news for the president. All of this stems from McDougal's allegation that she had an extramarital affair with Trump beginning in 2016. She eventually sold her story in August 2016 for $150,000 to the National Enquirer, which killed it. The chairman of the tabloid's parent company, David Pecker, is a friend of Trump's, and prosecutors have been investigating whether he and Cohen coordinated on the payment. The Post has a slightly different take on the payment: It says Cohen was discussing the idea of paying the money to Enquirer parent company AMI for the rights to the story, not to McDougal herself. Either way, it's unclear why Cohen apparently never went through with the payment, notes the newspaper. Trump denies the McDougal affair. (More Michael Cohen stories.)

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