US President Donald Trump’s conversation with his lawyer Michael D Cohen over a payment to a former Playboy model prior to the 2016 presidential elections, was secretly recorded by the latter, the New York Times reported on Friday.
The less-than-two-minute conversation, which was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during a raid on Cohen’s office, is related to Karen McDougal, who alleged having a year-long-affair with Trump in 2006. The Justice Department is probing Cohen’s role in paying women to cover up embarrassing stories about Trump during the polls. Prosecutors, on the other hand, are also keen to know if the duo had violated the campaign finance laws.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani confirmed the former’s discussions over the payments with Cohen but said the payment was ultimately never made. Giuliani added that the president had done nothing wrong.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani was quoted as saying by the daily. He added that Trump had instead asked Cohen to issue a cheque, rather than sending cash, to ensure the payment was documented. “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” he said.
“We have nothing to say on this matter,” Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny J. Davis, said when asked about the tape.
McDougal alleged having an affair with Trump shortly after the latter’s wife gave birth to their son Barron. McDougal sold her story to The National Enquirer for $150,000 during the final months of the presidential campaign, but the tabloid sat on the story, which kept it from becoming public, the newspaper reported.