President Trump on Wednesday blasted his lawyer Michael Cohen after CNN aired a recording of a conversation that was secretly taped by Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election. On the tape, then-candidate Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing potential hush-money payments intended to squash a Playboy model’s story about an alleged affair she had with Trump.
“What kind of a lawyer would tape a client?” Trump tweeted. “So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things? I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped — can this be so? Too bad!”
The tape is one of several recordings seized by the FBI during a raid on Cohen’s office earlier this year. Cohen is under federal investigation for potential bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Cohen, Trump’s self-described “fixer” and longtime ally, has in recent weeks signaled a willingness to “flip” on his former boss.
On the September 2016 recording, which was made inside Trump Tower, Cohen appears to tell Trump that he will need to set up a company for “financing” to buy the rights of Karen McDougal’s story from American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer. AMI had reportedly reached a $150,000 deal to pay McDougal for her story about their alleged 2006 affair, which it never published — a tactic commonly known in the world of tabloid publishing as “catch and kill.”
“What financing?” Trump asks Cohen.
“We’ll have to pay,” Cohen replies.
“Pay with cash,” Trump appears to reply.
“No, no,” Cohen says.
The two-minute recording then cuts off.
Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, contends that Trump actually told Cohen “don’t pay with cash.”
Appearing on Fox News Tuesday night, Giuliani urged viewers to listen to the recording multiple times.
“The third time you hear it, it becomes clear,” Giuliani said, adding: “I’ve had about 4,000 hours of Mafia people on tape. I know how to listen to them. I know how to transcribe them.”
Based on the audio, Trump’s instruction to Cohen is not entirely clear. Giuliani said the payments to AMI were ultimately never made.
But it appears Trump knew about payments to McDougal — something his campaign denied.
On Nov. 4, 2016, when asked about the payments AMI made to McDougal by the Wall Street Journal, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, “We have no knowledge of any of this.”
Last week, after the existence of the tape was reported by the New York Times, Trump reacted on Twitter by characterizing the raid as a break-in and suggesting Cohen’s actions were “perhaps illegal.”
“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) — almost unheard of,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
The raid was conducted via a warrant. In New York State, where Trump Tower is located, only one party has to consent for a legal recording of a discussion.
And in May 2017, when Trump warned that fired FBI Director James Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations,” the Washington Post noted that Trump, himself, has “a long history of secretly recording calls.”
Read more from Yahoo News: