Update 7:00 p.m. EDT July 20: An attorney for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime former attorney, has confirmed that Cohen secretly recorded conversations with Trump and that he does have a recording made in 2016 before the presidential election about a former Playboy Playmate who claims that she had a year-long affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis denied that the tape would help Trump, as a Trump attorney claimed.
“Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that. But suffice it to say that when the recording is heard, it will not hurt Michael Cohen. Any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape,” Davis posted on Twitter.
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Recordings that attorney Michael Cohen secretly made of his longtime client, President Donald Trump, were seized earlier this year when FBI agents raided Cohen’s office, The New York Times reported Friday.
According to the newspaper, Cohen recorded a conversation he had with Trump two months before the 2016 presidential election, in which they talked about possibly paying Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who claims that she had a year-long affair with Trump in 2006.
Trump and Cohen discussed buying the rights to McDougal's story about one month after the publisher of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., paid her $150,000, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The recording obtained by authorities was less than two minutes long, according to the Journal. It cut off while the conversation was ongoing, the newspaper reported.
Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the existence of the recording to the Times, but he said it lasted less than two minutes and that no payment was ultimately made to McDougal.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani told the newspaper.
He confirmed to CNN that Cohen also made other recordings, which he described as “mundane discussions.”
The recordings were among the things seized in April by federal agents who raided Cohen’s hotel and office, according to the Times. Other items seized included Cohen’s computer, his phone and several records, The Washington Post reported.
Trump allies worried after the FBI raid on Cohen was made public earlier this year that recordings might have been among the items seized, as Cohen was known to sometimes tape conversations he had with associates. He kept the recordings as digital files that he would replay for colleagues, the Post reported, citing unidentified sources.
Authorities sought details on Cohen’s efforts to stave off negative publicity of Trump, CBS News and the Times reported. Among other things, authorities sought information on the release of an infamous tape in which the president could be heard on a hot mic making derogatory comments about women and payments Cohen made to a pair of women who claim they had sexual relationships with Trump, including McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels, according to the Times.
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Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, called for the release of what he called the “Trump tapes” on Friday.
"If Michael Cohen is a patriot, then ALL of the tapes should be released to the American people," Avenatti wrote on Twitter. "Now. Too much is at stake."
During the April raid, officials also sought details on the role AMI played in keeping McDougal’s and Daniels’ stories from going public, according to the Times.
Just before voters went to polls in the 2016 presidential election, the Journal reported that the company agreed to pay McDougal $150,000 for her story about her affair with Trump. The tabloid never published a story on the alleged affair, which McDougal claims took place in 2006, while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania.
The publisher has denied accusations that McDougal’s story was bought in order to “catch and kill” it in an effort to shield Trump from bad publicity in the run-up to the 2016 election. In a statement, company officials told the Journal that the payment to McDougal was for “two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers as well as exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man.”
Then-Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied that McDougal and Trump had an affair and told the Journal that campaign officials had “no knowledge” of the agreement between AMI and McDougal.