Donald Trump was taped ahead of the 2016 election discussing a payment to hush up an alleged affair with a Playboy model, reports say. The FBI seized the recording during a raid on the office of Trump’s former lawyer.
Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly recorded the president talking about a payment for a Playboy model’s story about an alleged affair with him, US media reported Friday.
The conversation was allegedly taped two months before the 2016 US presidential election. The recording was seized by the FBI during a raid on Cohen’s offices in April.
The Trump campaign said it had no knowledge of any payment relating to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims she had a monthslong affair with Trump after they met in 2006. Trump denies the affair ever happened.
Meanwhile, Trump tweeted early Saturday morning that it was “inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client” and added that it was “perhaps illegal” to do so.
An attorney for Trump’s former lawyer said that “any attempt at spin cannot change” what is on a recording of Trump discussing a potential payment to a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with him years ago.
Read more: Donald Trump admits to reimbursing lawyer for Stormy Daniels hush money
What’s on the tape?
The New York Times, which first broke the story, said the two-minute recording was of Trump and his lawyer discussing buying the rights to McDougal’s story, which she had sold to The National Enquirerfor $150,000 (€128,000) a few weeks earlier.
The tabloid ultimately didn’t publish her account. Its parent company, American Media, is owned by a personal friend of the president.
Current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said his client had done nothing wrong, adding that the payment discussed in the recording was never made.
“The transaction that Michael (Cohen) is talking about on the tape never took place, but what’s important is: If it did take place, the president said it has to be done correctly and it has to be done by check” to keep a proper record of it, Giuliani said.
He added that there was no discussion of using campaign funds for the payment, which legal experts say could constitute a violation of campaign finance laws.
A government watchdog group has asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the payment by American Media amounted to an unreported and illegal corporate campaign contribution.
For months, former longtime Trump lawyer Cohen has been under federal investigation in New Yorkfor criminal conduct surrounding his personal business activities.
As well as the McDougal case, investigators are looking into a $130,000 pre-election hush payment the lawyer made on Trump’s behalf to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Daniels also alleges she had an affair with Trump, which the president has denied.
nm/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)