Anyone who is surprised about the news that Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen made tapes of conversations hasn’t been paying attention.
Michael Cohen secretly recorded a 2016 conversation in which he and President Trump discussed paying hush money to a former Playboy model who claims she slept with Trump, the New York Times reported Friday. The FBI is in possession of the recording.
Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed that the taped conversation about the payments to Karen McDougal occurred. Giuliani told the Times that the brief recording contained no suggestion that Trump has “any knowledge of it in advance” and said it was actually “powerful exculpatory evidence.”
The call reportedly focused on the $150,000 that the National Enquirer’s parent company made to McDougal to “catch and kill” her story about her alleged yearlong 2006 affair with Trump, as well as an additional, previously unreported payment that Cohen planned to make directly to McDougal.
Maggie Haberman, one of the Times reporters who broke the story, said on CNN that Giuliani was trying to argue that Trump instructed Cohen to send the money by check “so that it was done properly, as opposed to cash,” which would not be traceable. That additional payment was never actually sent, Haberman said.
The phone recording was among the huge trove of materials that the FBI seized from Cohen’s Manhattan office in an April raid. Cohen is under criminal investigation in New York for a host of financial dealings, including the payments he doled out during the 2016 campaign to silence women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with Trump.
Those payments could violate federal finance laws.
It has been known for several months that Cohen often taped conversations between himself and others as a way to protect himself and Trump. When the FBi raided his office and residences they seized the devises that Cohen used to make the surreptitious recording . He even bragged about it to friends. Although Cohen has denied recording Trump, apparently, he did.
Despite being Trump’s lawyer at the time, this recording does npt come under attorney/client privilege because the discussion is about a possible crime, violating the campaign finance law.