This post was originally published on Zero Hedge.
The attorney for President Trump’s former longtime personal attorney has given CNN a copy of a secretly recorded conversation between Trump and Cohen, in which they discuss purchasing the rights to a Playboy model’s claim that she and Trump had an affair.
McDougal, claims to have had a nearly yearlong affair with Trump in 2006, right before Melania Trump gave birth to their son Barron. McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer for $150,000 as the 2016 presidential campaign was in its final months, however the tabloid sat on the story which kept it from becoming public in a practice known as “catch and kill.”
Cohen told Trump about his plans to set up a company and finance the purchase of the rights from American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer.
“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen said in the recording, likely a reference to American Media head David Pecker.
Trump interrupts Cohen asking, “What financing?” according to the recording. When Cohen tells Trump, “We’ll have to pay.” Trump is heard saying “pay with cash” but the audio is muddled and it’s unclear whether he suggests paying with cash or not paying. Cohen says, “no, no” but it is not clear what is said next. –CNN
CNN airs audio from the Michael Cohen/Trump tape where they discuss paying off Karen McDougal pic.twitter.com/gRZXUE2cMF
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) July 25, 2018
The Enquirer’s chairman, David J. Pecker, is a personal friend of Trump’s, and McDougal has accused Cohen of taking part in the deal.
By burying Ms. McDougal’s story during the campaign in a practice known in the tabloid industry as “catch and kill,” A.M.I. protected Mr. Trump from negative publicity that could have harmed his election chances, spending money to do so.
The authorities believe that the company was not always operating in what campaign finance law calls a “legitimate press function,” according to the people briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. That may explain why prosecutors did not follow typical Justice Department protocol to avoid subpoenaing news organizations when possible, and to give journalists advance warning when demanding documents or other information. –New York Times
While Trump never paid for the rights, Lanny Davis says that the recording, made in 2016, shows Trump knew about the payment.
On Saturday, President Trump broke his silence over the recording, tweeting: “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. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” Trump tweeted.
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. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
The release of the tape has sparked a widespread debate about the sanctity of attorney-client privilege, and its use in “one-party” consent states.
Gonna be HELLA interesting legal argument related to matter involving attorney Michael Cohen’s secretly taping conversations w/client Donald Trump.
Here’s where attorney-client privilege collides violently with NYS being one-party consent state, related to taping communications.
— James A. Gagliano (@JamesAGagliano) July 20, 2018
Meanwhile, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed with the New York Times last week that Trump and Cohen had discussed payments – and that “there was no indication on the tape that Mr. Trump knew before the conversation about the payment from the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., to Ms. McDougal.”
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” said Giuliani, adding that Trump had previously told Cohen that if he were to make a payment related to the woman, to write a check instead of sending cash so that the transaction could be properly documented. “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani added.
Cohen made a similar payment of $130,000 to porn star and stripper Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Cohen said at the time “In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford.”
Clifford – whose husband just filed for divorce, is suing Trump over a nondisclosure agreement so that she can “tell her story” (in the form of a book, we imagine), while she is also suing both Trump and Cohen for libel after Trump called her statements “fraud” over Twitter, while claiming that Clifford fabricated a story that she was threatened by a man after she went to journalists with the story of her affair.
Shortly before the 2016 election, former Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that McDougal’s allegations were “totally untrue.”
This post was originally published on Zero Hedge.