Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Trump responds to secret lawyer tapes

Trump responds to secret lawyer tapes

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. President Donald Trump said Saturday that his personal lawyer's taping of their private phone conversations is "totally unheard of & perhaps illegal".

The Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation had seized the recording during a raid on Cohen's office earlier this year, quoting lawyers and others familiar with the recording. But a source told CNN later Friday that the conversation on the tape is "not good for the president".

Since then, Cohen has publicly distanced himself from the president and remains under investigation by the government. Cohen proposed paying about $150,000 to AMI, the sources said, and on tape Trump can be heard telling Cohen to make sure the payment is properly documented in order to keep a record of it. Speaking to the NYT, he said that the recording, less than two minutes long, would show that while the discussion of payments did occur, no payment was ever made and would prove that the current president did nothing wrong. "When all of this evidence ultimately comes to light, and I hope that it will. this is going to spell a significant problem for Michael Cohen and a larger problem for the president".

Giuliani put a positive spin on the content of the in-person conversation on Friday, describing it as Trump discussing potential payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleges Trump an affair with her. Trump denies the allegation. Any hush money that was not reported potentially would violate campaign financing laws for the 2016 election. "AMI had bought the rights from McDougal", Giuliani said in a short interview on Saturday. The Enquirer, whose owner claims to be "personal friends" with the president, never published the story, a practice known as "catch and kill" in the tabloid industry. Most states, including NY, allow for recordings of conversations with only the consent of one party; other states require all parties to agree to a recording or have mixed laws on the matter.

The New Yorker magazine reported in February that Trump had an affair with McDougal at the same time he had a relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels and that the National Enquirer prevented McDougal's story being made public. However, the episode raised the possibility that Mr Cohen secretly recorded other conversations with Mr Trump and senior campaign figures. His lawyer has said the payment was never made.

Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis said in a Twitter post that the recording will not hurt Cohen. The leak of the news of the tape, likely by Trump's legal team, suggests that the special master is putting this in the "Unprivileged" bin, which in turn suggests that Cohen wasn't legitimately acting as Trump's attorney on this matter.

"We have no knowledge of any of this", she said. She declined to comment further.

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