The NYTimes is reporting that Michael Cohen has a recording he secretly made of Donald Trump discussing a payment being made to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model with whom Donald Trump allegedly (ahem) had a year-long affair shortly after his wife gave birth to his son.
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.
The recording’s existence further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret. And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump’s secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors.
Trump’s attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, is aware of the recording and suggests that it proves that Trump did nothing wrong. He says that the tape shows that Trump didn’t know about the payment in advance (which was ultimately never made), but also that Trump directed Cohen to pay with a check instead of cash so it could be documented. I don’t really know how those two statements can be squared, but it is true that Trump didn’t pay McDougal — the National Enquirer paid her $150,000 as part of a catch-and-kill practice.
The tape is important, however, in determining whether Trump broke any campaign finance laws.
Flashback: When WSJ revealed the existence of the National Enquirer payment to McDougal days before the election, Hope Hicks, said, "We have no knowledge of any of this." https://t.co/3LgwTjZ3VZ— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 20, 2018