President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: ‘There is no invitation from Congress’ Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE‘s longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen secretly taped a conversation with him ahead of the 2016 election about paying a Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump — and the FBI has the tape, according to an explosive new report in The New York Times.
The FBI seized the secret recording made by Cohen during a raid on his offices earlier this year, the Times reported Friday.
Cohen and Trump discussed a payment to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who says she had a yearlong affair with Trump starting in 2006, shortly after he married now-first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFirst lady listens to students discuss online civility Trump to visit Andrews to receive body of fallen secret service member The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE. The conversation took place two months ahead of the 2016 election.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed to the newspaper that the recording existed, but he said the payment was never made.
Giuliani asserted that the recording lasts less than two minutes and shows that Trump did nothing wrong.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani said.
“We have nothing to say on this matter,” Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told the Times.
Trump aides said shortly after the raids on Cohen’s office and home that the lawyer had a habit of secretly recording conversations, and expressed concerns that federal investigators could have tapes of conversations between Trump and Cohen.
Giuliani told the newspaper that, during the recorded conversation, Trump told Cohen to make the payment in the form of a check so it could be documented.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani said.
Then-Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope HicksHope Charlotte Hicks‘Daily Show’ trolls Trump over Pruitt’s resignation Ex-Fox News exec Bill Shine to join White House Ex-Trump aide pushes for Hope Hicks as chief of staff: Trump will ‘listen to women more than men’ MORE said shortly before the 2016 election that McDougal’s allegations of an affair with Trump were “totally untrue.”
The Wall Street Journal reported just days before Election Day 2016 that the publisher of the National Enquirer had purchased McDougal’s story about her alleged affair with Trump but never ran the piece, a process known as “catch and kill.”
The former Playboy model sued the publisher, American Media Inc., over the deal earlier this year. The company settled the lawsuit in April, freeing her from their contract.
American Media Inc. chairman David Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump.
Federal investigators are looking at Cohen over possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including a $130,000 nondisclosure payment made in 2016 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Trump in an attempt to void the nondisclosure agreement. She is also suing both Trump and Cohen for libel for denying her claims of an affair.
Giuliani revealed earlier this year that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels, despite the president previously denying any knowledge of the payment.
Cohen has recently sought to distance himself from Trump, fueling rumors that he could be preparing to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Updated at 12:29 p.m.
Published at Fri, 20 Jul 2018 15:49:56 +0000