Michael Cohen secretly recorded a conversation with President Donald Trump two months before the 2016 election, when he was Trump’s personal lawyer, as they discussed payments to a former Playboy model over an alleged affair, The New York Times reported Friday.
Citing “lawyers and others familiar with the recording,” the Times disclosed that the recording was seized when the FBI raided Cohen’s office in April.
Agents were armed with search warrants based in part on information from Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors.
“We have nothing to say on this matter,” Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told the Times.
Cohen is no longer Trump’s attorney. The White House has consistently said that Trump denied the affair.
But Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who now is on the president’s personal legal team, confirmed the discussion of the payments between Trump and Cohen.
The payment to the former model, Karen McDougal, ultimately was never made, however, Giuliani said.
The recording lasted fewer than two minutes, he said, proving Trump had done nothing wrong.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani told the Times in an interview.
He added that Trump had directed Cohen — if he were to make any payment, — to write a check rather than using cash to document it.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani said.
McDougal has alleged that she began a yearlong affair with Trump in 2006.
She was paid $150,000 in 2016 by the parent company of The National Enquirer under an agreement that gave it the exclusive rights to her story, which it never published.
Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim of the affair.
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