The Trump-Cohen Tape Reveals A Concealed Affair And A Corrupt Coverup

Did Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, and The National Enquirer collude to suppress the story of Trump’s affair with Karen McDougal?
Michael Cohen and Donald Trump (AP)

Michael Cohen and Donald Trump (AP)

The Rantt Rundown: Day 551 of the Trump presidency

The Big Story: On Friday, we learned about the existence a tape Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen recorded in Septemeber 2016 where Donald Trump discussed purchasing the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s affair story from the National Enquirer. Tonight, it was released by CNN.

“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.

President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed that that the payment was ultimately never made. But, Giuliani went on to say that Trump told Cohen if he were to make a payment to use a check instead of cash. The word check is nowhere to be heard in the recording.

The Context: A little background info is in order. As we know, the National Enquirer paid former Playboy Model Karen McDougal $150,000 to purchase and suppress the story about her 2006 affair with Donald Trump. The payment was made in August 2016. David Pecker, the chairman of the National Enquirer’s parent company, is a friend of Donald Trump’s. The Wall Street Journal broke the story on this on November 4, 2016. When then-Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks was reached out to for comment, she said they had no knowledge of this payment and denied the affair. That was clearly a lie.

There has always been questions as to whether or not Cohen was involved in the National Enquirer deal. McDougal has accused Cohen of such, and told CNN that she later found out her legal representation for the negotiations with the Enquirer, Keith Davidson, was in contact with Cohen.

A major unanswered question is whether or not Cohen reimbursed the Enquirer for their payment to McDougal. Although his audio recording doesn’t confirm that, it does provide evidence that makes that possibility more likely. Given the report that the National Enquirer has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, it’s definitely of interest. Michael Cohen had a fixer fund he amassed, so if Trump discussed payments to McDougal, whether or not any of that money made its way to the Enquirer is a question that must be answered.

Cohen reportedly obtained the $774,000 through a home-equity line of credit. As we know, Cohen paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) in October 2016 to keep her quiet about her affair with Donald Trump. Rudy Giuliani told Fox News’ Hannity that this payment was reimbursed and that President Trump knew about it. Giuliani also claimed that the payment was related to the campaign. Giuliani and Trump have both asserted that Cohen was reimbursed through his $35k monthly retainer. Giuliani went as far as to say Cohen was reimbursed up to $470,000 (later revising it down to $420,000).

As part of the criminal investigation being conducted by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York, Cohen is being probed for potential bank fraud and potentially violating election law by trying to suppress damning information about then-candidate. Recent reports indicate Cohen will likely cooperate with federal investigators.

In other news…

Rundown // Donald Trump / Michael Cohen / News