Report: Michael Cohen secretly recorded Trump talking about payoff to Playboy model

Report: Michael Cohen secretly recorded Trump talking about payoff to Playboy model

July 20, 2018 12:27 PM

President Donald Trump was secretly recorded by his then-lawyer Michael Cohen just two months before the 2016 presidential election talking about paying off a Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, a new report said Friday.

The New York Times reported that the FBI seized that recording, which related to model Karen McDougal, during a raid on Cohen's office in New York City on April 9.

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Trump's current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the Times on Friday that while Trump had talked about making payments with Cohen on that recording, the payment to McDougal was never actually made.

"I know this is the tip of the iceberg," Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, told CNBC when asked about the recording with McDougal, and asked if Cohen had recordings relating to Daniels.

Daniels has said she had her own sexual tryst with Trump in 2006, the same year in which McDougal has said she began a nearly year-long affair with him, and the same year in which his wife Melania gave birth to their son Barron.

McDougal sold her account of her alleged liaison with the future president to The National Enquirer for $150,000 before the November 2016 election. But the Trump-friendly supermarket tabloid did not publish it before Election Day.

Giuliani told the Times that recording made by Cohen lasts for less than two minutes, and demonstrated that Trump committed no wrongdoing.

"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani, according to the report. Giuliani said that Trump had told Cohen that if he were to pay McDougal he should do so with a check, rather than cash, so that there would be record of the payment.

"In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani told the newspaper.

Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC.

The White House, which has previously denied that McDougal had an affair with Trump, referred questions to Giuliani.

Lanny Davis, one of Cohen's new lawyers, did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the Times article.

"We have nothing to say on this matter," Davis told The Times.

Cohen is the subject of an ongoing criminal probe by federal prosecutors in New York City. He has not been charged in that case.

Prosecutors are eyeing his business dealings, in addition to a $130,000 payment that Cohen made to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, shortly before the election.

Daniels has said that the payment was to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006, the same year in which McDougal says her own affair with Trump began.

The White House has denied Daniels had sex with Trump. But the president has admitted reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment to Daniels.


CNBC (Kevin Breuninger, Dan Mangan)

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