What Michael Cohen’s Tape Of Trump Discussing The Karen McDougal Payment Means

The recording between Donald Trump and his fixer Michael Cohen raises countless questions...some that place added scrutiny on the National Enquirer.
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, walks down the sidewalk in New York, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, walks down the sidewalk in New York, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

After Donald Trump’s repeated denials of knowledge of the affair and knowledge of payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the Justice Department reportedly has hard evidence depicting the opposite. The New York Times reported:

President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed the existence of the recording, stating it was less than two minutes long and making the unconfirmed assertion 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.

Whether or not attorney-client privilege would’ve protected this tape, it’s likely it fit within the crime-fraud exception. This conversation between President Trump’s former personal lawyer (and fixer) Michael Cohen raises numerous questions. The Washington Post’s report has more details of the recording:

In the September 2016 conversation, Cohen and Trump were discussing a plan by Cohen to attempt to purchase the rights to McDougal’s story from AMI for roughly $150,000, according to one person familiar with recording.

On the tape, Trump can be heard urging Cohen to make sure he properly documents the agreement to buy the rights and urges him to use a check — rather than cash — to keep a record of the transaction, the person said.

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 latest development 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 light of this, another important question arises: are there more tapes?

Needless to say, this development does not look good for Donald Trump.

News // Donald Trump / Hush Money / Karen McDougal / Michael Cohen