The dramatic leak of a taped conversation between Donald Trump and his longtime attorney Michael Cohen signals an aggressive new strategy by the former fixer, raising questions about how much the U.S. leader has to fear should he cooperate with prosecutors. Trump's lawyers say the payments were never made. Is this a first, never heard of it before? The conversation about the potential payment appears to have been interrupted in the middle of Trump saying what sounds like "check", and abruptly cuts to a different person for a few seconds.
Trump's lawyers say the three-minute recording was made surreptitiously by Cohen during what seems to be a casual, campaign-related conversation with Trump in September 2016, just two months away from the national election.
Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, later disclosed the president reimbursed Cohen through a monthly retainer, but had not learned of the deal with the porn actress until later.
The tape, one of a dozen tapes Mr. Cohen made of conversations about Mr. Trump, was seized in an April FBI raid on Mr. Cohen's home and offices. That was shortly after now First Lady Melania gave birth to their son, Barron.
Cohen can be heard in the tape telling Trump that he needs "to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David", apparently referring to American Media Inc. head David Pecker.
Echoing Lieu and McGovern, journalist David Atkins argued that the tape shows Trump and Cohen "discussing a conspiracy to repay a tabloid owner for buying and spiking a story by the candidate's mistress".
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When he released the tapes of President Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, Cohen's lawyer not only caused a media firestorm, but he may have also pulled back the curtain on Trump's systematic tactics to quiet women from his past. His new-found willingness to share details of his work will rattle the president.
The audio is muffled, but can be heard saying to "pay with cash" and Cohen immediately says, "no, no". McDougal, who was Playmate of the Month in December 1997 and Playmate of the Year in 1998, alleges that she had a 10-month romantic affair with Trump in 2006.
Giuliani disputed this on Tuesday night and provided an alternate transcript that claimed Trump was giving an instruction to Cohen and told his longtime fixer, "don't pay with cash".
Mueller's investigation, coupled with Davis and Cohen's offensive against the White House, has created a tenuous situation: More secretly recorded tapes between the president and his flipped-attorney are expected to surface over the upcoming weeks.
President Donald Trump's legal troubles with his former lawyer Michael Cohen took a damaging twist on Thursday. The suit says the foundation routinely and willfully broke the law by engaging in self-dealing that ultimately came to include illegal coordination with Trump's political campaign. ABC News has done an initial review of the recording. Davis and Giuliani did not respond to a request for further comment.
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