Secret Trump-Cohen Tape Shows ‘An Obvious Fraud’

Hannah Rogers
July 26, 2018

Eyebrows were raised over the weekend after multiple outlets reported that President Donald Trump's lawyers waived privilege claims over a bombshell tape seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from his former longtime attorney Michael Cohen that contained a conversation between the two about payments made to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The president seized on that point, tweeting: "What kind of a lawyer would tape a client?"

He said the conversation never should have been recorded in the first place, let alone released in the media. "So sad!. Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things?"

CNN hired an audio forensics expert on Wednesday to review the tape and determine what is heard, what isn't heard and figure out what clues can be gleaned from the almost three-minute clip. According to CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman, the tape in and of itself does not indicate a crime was committed but it is "possible" since the recording raises serious questions about whether Mr. Trump violated campaign finance law.

The audio recording seems to make it clear Trump was familiar with former Playboy model Karen McDougal's allegation that the two had an affair in 2006 and 2007. That was shortly after now First Lady Melania gave birth to their son, Barron.

In the tape, Cohen suggested to Trump they buy the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal's story, which had been bought by the publisher of the National Enquirer a month earlier. McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer for $150,000 as the 2016 presidential campaign was in its final months, however the tabloid sat on the story which kept it from becoming public in a practice known as "catch and kill".

Giuliani said the recording was less than two minutes long, and that there was no indication based on it that Trump knew of the payment to American Media Inc. beforehand.

But on tape, the candidate expresses no surprise when the issue comes up and Cohen talks about essentially reimbursing the company for what it paid McDougal.

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Without any claim to attorney-client privilege, investigators - including those working on special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation - would have free reign to examine a slew of documents and tapes about Trump and Cohen's business dealings.

While Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani previously insisted Cohen suggested using cash to buy the story, Davis pointed to the audio as proof that it was Trump's suggestion all along. Trump denies the affair ever happened.

"We'll have to pay", Cohen said, according to a recording of the conversation that CNN obtained and broadcast Tuesday night.

The tape, made in September 2016, two months before the election, was provided to CNN by Mr Cohen's attorney, Mr Lanny Davis. [The] Trump Tapes also show Rudy Giuliani lied.

Cohen, who once said that he was prepared to "take a bullet" and "do anything" to protect Trump, is under scrutiny from federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Trump was outraged at the raid on Cohen in April, declaring on Twitter that "attorney client privilege is dead" on Twitter and calling the search "an attack on our country".

Giuliani contested Davis's interpretation and released the Trump team's version of the transcript, which contradicts Davis.

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