- Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, responded on Friday to revelations that Trump was recorded in September 2016 discussing payments to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with him.
- “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani told The New York Times of the tape.
- The tape was reportedly seized by the FBI earlier this year.
- Hope Hicks, Trump’s former spokeswoman, said in November 2016 that the president had “no knowledge” of McDougal’s allegations.
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Friday responded on Friday to revelations that Trump was recorded in September 2016 discussing payments to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with him.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani told The New York Times, which broke the story of the tape’s existence.
Giuliani confirmed to The Times and CNN that Trump was recorded discussing buying the rights to a contract between McDougal and American Media Inc., which paid her $US150,000 in August 2016 for exclusive publishing rights to her story. (As part of that contract, McDougal was barred from speaking publicly about her relationship with Trump.)
Trump was not aware that his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, recorded two minutes of the conversation between him and Cohen, Giuliani told CNN. The Times reported that the tape was seized by the FBI during raids of Cohen’s properties in New York in April.
Giuliani added that Trump was recorded telling Cohen to write a check, rather than send cash, so that the payment would be properly documented. But a payment was never made, Giuliani said.
In November 2016, when The Wall Street Journal first reported McDougal’s account of a consensual sexual relationship with Trump beginning in 2006, Hope Hicks, then the president’s campaign spokeswoman, said McDougal’s story was “totally untrue.”
“We have no knowledge of any of this,” Hicks told The Journal. Trump has separately denied having an affair with McDougal.
The revelation that Trump knew about McDougal’s allegations – and about the contract between McDougal and AMI – appears to directly contradict what the Trump campaign told The Journal.
“Nothing in that conversation” in the recording suggests Trump “had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani told The Times of AMI’s payment to McDougal.
AMI, which publishes the National Enquirer and whose CEO is a friend of Trump’s, has a history of publishing stories favourable to the president.
“We never printed a word about Trump without his approval,” a former top editor at the company told The New Yorker earlier this year.
Cohen is the focus of a Manhattan US attorney’s office investigation into whether he committed bank or wire fraud or violated campaign-finance laws while working for Trump or leading up to the 2016 election. Federal investigators are probing whether Cohen’s payments to women with damaging stories about Trump violated campaign-finance laws.
McDougal, Playboy magazine’s 1998 Playmate of the Year, says she joined Trump at a July 2006 golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, California. Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she also had sex with Trump there.
In an eight-page handwritten document obtained by The New Yorker, McDougal described details of her relationship with Trump, whom she said she met at a pool party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in June 2006.
“I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man,” she wrote of her first date with Trump at his Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow, according to The New Yorker. “We talked for a couple hours – then, it was ‘ON’! We got naked + had sex.”
McDougal also wrote that Trump offered to pay her for sex but that she declined the money, the report says.