A secret audio recording of Donald Trump discussing with his attorney Michael Cohen how they would buy a Playboy model’s story about her alleged affair with him, has been revealed.
In the tape, obtained and aired by CNN on Tuesday, the president can be heard speaking to his lawyer about the proposal to buy Karen McDougal’s story. Trump’s campaign had previously claimed it knew nothing about any payment to McDougal.
Cohen is heard on the recording made in September 2016 telling Trump he plans to set up a company to purchase the rights of the story from American Media who bought it from McDougal for $150,000.
A secret audio recordings of Donald Trump discussing with his attorney Michael Cohen how they would buy a Playboy model’s story about her alleged affair with him, has been revealed
‘I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,’ Cohen said in the recording – thought to be a reference to American Media head David Pecker.
Trump interjects to ask ‘What financing’ which his lawyer responds: ‘We’ll have to pay.’
The then presidential candidate interrupts again but his voice is muffled. He is heard to say ‘pay with cash’, but it’s unclear if he suggested to pay with cash or said don’t pay with cash.
Cohen’s replied: ‘No, no, no, no.’
‘Check,’ Trump adds.
The recording was provided to CNN by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis.
Davis, 72, formerly special counsel to President Bill Clinton, said he gave the copy to the network to defend his client who was ‘falsely accused.’
Trump’s ex-lawyer Cohen is accused of receiving US$500,000 from a Russian oligarch linked to election meddling.
Trump’s new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, insists the president never paid McDougal but had acknowledged that the audio, which dates back to September 2016, captured a discussion related to the buying the story rights.
Before it was leaked, Giuliani said the recording would play to Trump’s benefit.
‘Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,’ Giuliani said, according to the Times, and said Trump told Cohen that if he made a payment to McDougal, he should write a check, rather than using cash, so it could be properly documented.
After the tape was released, he told Fox News on Tuesday it was ‘outrageous’ that it had been leaked to the media and questioned it ended at a key part in the conversation.
Giuliani claims that the rest of the recording, if it hadn’t cut off, would have been ‘exculpatory’.
He also told The Associated Press that Trump did not want to pay cash and ‘suggesting otherwise is ridiculous.’
McDougal says she had a year-long affair with Trump after the birth of his son Baron
McDougal received a $150,000 payment in exchange for her story, which never ran
McDougal is seen far right in this photo with Melania Trump (third from left), Donald Trump (center), and Ivanka Trump (third from right
THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF TRUMP AND COHEN’S DISCUSSION
TRUMP: [In background] Good. Let me know what’s happening, okay? Oh, oh. Maybe because of this it would be better if you didn’t go, you know? Maybe because of this. For that one, you know, I think what you should do is get rid of this. Because it’s so false what they’re saying, it’s such bulls**t.
Um. [PAUSE] I think, I think this goes away quickly. I think what — I think it’s probably better to do the Charleston thing, just this time. Uh, yeah. In two weeks, it’s fine. I think right now it’s, it’s better. You know?
Okay, honey. You take care of yourself. Thanks, babe. Yup, I’m proud of you. So long. Bye.
[Into phone] What’s happening?
COHEN: Great poll, by the way.
COHEN: Seen it. Great poll.
TRUMP: Making progress.
COHEN: Big time.
TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He’s a good —
COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott?
TRUMP: Can’t believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What’s, what’s happening —
COHEN: No —
TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?
COHEN: Oh, yeah, a hundred — no, you’re talking about Mark Burns. He’s, we’ve told him to [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
TRUMP: I don’t need that — Mark Burns, are we using him?
COHEN: No, no.
female escort in Washington DC: Richard [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. I’m sorry, Richard [UNINTELLIGIBLE] just called. He — just when you have a chance, he had an idea for you.
TRUMP: Okay, great.
COHEN: Um, so, we got served from the New York Times. I told you this — we were …
TRUMP: To what?
COHEN: … To unseal the divorce papers with Ivana. Um, we’re fighting it. Um, [Trump attorney Marc] Kasowitz is going to —
TRUMP: They should never be able to get that.
COHEN: Never. Never. Kasowitz doesn’t think they’ll ever be able to. They don’t have a —
TRUMP: Get me a Coke, please!
COHEN: They don’t have a legitimate purpose, so —
TRUMP: And you have a woman that doesn’t want this.
TRUMP: Who you’ve been handling.
COHEN: Yes. And —
TRUMP: And it’s been going on for a while.
COHEN: About two, three weeks now.
TRUMP: All you’ve got to do is delay for —
COHEN: Even after that, it’s not ever going to be opened. There’s no, there’s no purpose for it. Um, told you about Charleston.
I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that — I’m going to do that right away. I’ve actually come up and I’ve spoken —
TRUMP: Give it to me and get me a [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
COHEN: And, I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with …
TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?
COHEN: … Funding . . . Yes. Um, and it’s all the stuff.
TRUMP: Yeah, I was thinking about that.
COHEN: All the stuff. Because — here, you never know where that company — you never know what he’s —
TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So, I’m all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be —
TRUMP: Wait a sec, what financing?
COHEN: Well, I’ll have to pay him something.
TRUMP: [UNINTELLIGIBLE] pay with cash.
COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it.
[Tape cuts off abruptly. Separate recording begins.]
MALE: Hey Don, how are you?
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, slammed the Cohen tape saying it proved that Trump and Cohen tried to kill the story in the run up to the election so it was ‘campaign motivated’.
He said that: ‘Regardless of cash or check, whole point of phony corp. was to hide campaign expenditure.’
Schiff added that it was also proof that Giuliani was ‘untruthful’ when he said Trump didn’t know about the payments.
Federal prosecutors obtained 12 audio recordings from the FBI raids on Cohen’s offices earlier this year.
Trump’s lawyers waived attorney-client privilege for Trump regarding this recording.
The president broke his silence on Saturday morning tweeting that it was ‘inconceivable’ and possibly illegal that Cohen recorded him without his knowledge.
‘Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal,’ he wrote.
‘The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!’ Trump added.
The discussion, which was captured on audio, related to whether Trump should buy the story from American Media, which paid McDougal $150,000 for the tale in in August 2016. They never published the story.
Cohen and Trump also discussed a number of other issues which posed a risk to Trump as Republican nominee in the run up to the election, including how to contest a New York Times request to unseal his divorce records with first wife Ivana.
Trump broke his silence on Saturday and is not happy Cohen recorded their conversation about a payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal
Cohen has retained new legal representation, a possible signal he may be preparing to cooperate with prosecutors
They also spoke about election issues such as polling numbers and Trump surrogate Pastor Mark Burns.
The FBI seized Cohen’s devices during a raid on his home and office in New York this spring. A court then oversaw the culling of millions of documents and files to determine which ones might be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Currently, retired judge Barbara Jones is combing through the materials obtained by agents in their search and seizure of items, to root out any documents that might be protected under lawyer-client confidentiality between Trump and Cohen.
Jones’ first report, issued on June 4, indicated that only a small portion of the documents she had reviewed up until now are protected by privilege.
The documents are being reviewed by Jones because Cohen has argued that much of the material seized in connection with the FBI’s investigation into wire fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance law violations is protected as privileged work-product.
CNN reported that Trump only learned of the existence of the tape last week and exclaimed, ‘I can’t believe Michael would do this to me.’
Cohen is under criminal investigation on possible tax and campaign finance charges, and it is unclear if the tape would apply added pressure him.
President Trump and his associates are closely watching Cohen to see if he decides to cooperate with authorities should charges be brought against him.
If payments to McDougal are deemed to have been an effort to circumvent campaign finance laws and their strict limits on monetary contributions to a political campaign, it could provide legal exposure for Cohen.
In the case of another woman who claimed an affair with Trump, porn star Stormy Daniels, Cohen did write her a check, using an LLC he set up immediately beforehand.
The alleged affair began shortly after the birth of Trump’s son, Baron
‘In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,’ said Giuliani.
Lawyer Peter Stris, who negotiated a settlement between McDougal and American Media Inc., tweeted: ‘When @realDonaldTrump said we were lying, do you think he meant we WEREN’T?’ – in a play on Trump’s walk-back of his statement about Russian election meddling.
The Washington Post reported that the September 2016 story – two months before the election – involved a plan by Cohen to buy the rights to McDougal’s story. But the deal never happened.
When the Wall Street Journal broke the story on the payment and the alleged affair days before the election, Trump spokeswoman and later White House communications director Hope Hicks said, ‘We have no knowledge of any of this.’
Under the arrangement, David Pecker, chairman of American Media, which owns the National Enquirer, oversaw a $150,000 payment to McDougal. Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump’s and a political supporter.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said it is ‘powerful exculpatory evidence’ for Trump
Cohen met with MSBNC host and New York figure Rev. Al Sharpton, who he says he has known for 20 years.
‘Just spent an hour w/ Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney. I bet you’re wondering what we could be talking about! Stay tuned,’ Sharpton teased on Twitter.
‘I’ve known [Cohen] for maybe 20 years. He was a Democrat. He used to broker meetings between Trump and I when we were fighting,’ Sharpton followed up.
Cohen replied to one of Sharpton’s tweets, writing: ‘I have known Rev for almost 20 years. No one better to talk to!’
Porn Star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti said there are more Cohen tapes out there.
‘I know for a fact that this is not the only tape,’ Avenatti told MSNBC.
‘I think this is a very serious matter and I think that any or all audio tapes that Michael Cohen has in his possession relating to this president should be released for the public,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that’s stopping Michael Cohen from releasing the audio recordings that he made between him and the president concerning my client, Ms. McDougal, and others,’ Avenatti added.
One of Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny Davis, said ‘any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape.’
‘When the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen,’ Davis said in a statement.
Porn Star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti said there are more Cohen tapes out there