United States President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has secretly recorded a conversation he had with Trump discussing payments to a former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with the president, The New York Times reported quoting lawyers.
The recording was among the documents and materials seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during a raid of Cohen’s hotel, residence and office in April. The Justice Department is investigating Cohen’s involvement in paying women in order to conceal stories about Trump before the 2016 Presidential election.
Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, told CNN in March that she had a year-long affair with Trump in 2006. McDougal said she sold her story for $1,50,000 (Rs 1.03 crore) to The National Enquirer, a tabloid published by the American Media Inc and supportive of Trump, during the final months of the presidential campaign. The National Enquirer, however, did not publish the story. The practice, known as “catch and kill” kept the story from becoming public for the remainder of the presidential campaign.
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W Giuliani confirmed on Friday that Trump had discussed payments with Cohen in the recording and that it took place in September 2016. He said Trump did not know he was being recorded and claimed that the president had done nothing wrong.
Giuliani said the conversation involved reimbursing American Media Inc for McDougal’s story rights, but the payment was never made, Reuters reported. Giuliani also denied Trump had an affair with McDougal. He said the tape would show that Trump makes it clear that if there is going to be a payment, it should be done by check, which would be easily traced.
Giuliani also said that no campaign funding was involved in the discussion between Trump and Cohen, who has distanced himself from Trump as the FBI investigates business dealings undertaken by the president’s former lawyer.
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said in a Twitter post that the recording will not hurt Cohen. “Any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape.”
In May, Trump admitted to knowing about Cohen paying $1,30,000 to adult film star Stefanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, before the 2016 elections. The president claimed that the payment to Clifford – who says she had an affair with Trump – had nothing to do with his election campaign.