Michael Cohen's lawyer released secretly recorded audio of Trump and Cohen discussing payments to a former Playboy model in 2016, but no one can agree on who said what

Getty ImagesMichael Cohen and Donald Trump.
  • Michael Cohen’s attorney on Tuesday released audio said to be from a secretly recorded 2016 conversation between Cohen and Donald Trump, during which the two men appeared to discuss payments to a former Playboy model who claimed she had a sexual relationship with Trump years earlier.
  • The existence of that recording was first revealed last week, but the audio was heard publicly for the first time on CNN on Tuesday night.
  • On the recording, Cohen and Trump can be heard discussing numerous issues, but eventually Cohen seemed to explain how he planned to facilitate a payment to the former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
  • The audio is not entirely clear, and commentators are disputing who said what.

Michael Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis on Tuesday night released audio said to be from a 2016 conversation between Cohen and Donald Trump. The recording seems to feature the two men talking about how to pay a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who claimed she had a sexual relationship with Trump years prior.

CNN said the conversation was recorded in September 2016, two months before the 2016 presidential election.

The existence of the audio recording was first revealed last week, but the audio was heard publicly for the first time on CNN on Tuesday night.

Cohen and Trump can be heard discussing numerous issues on the recording, but eventually they seem to focus on McDougal, who had agreed to give her story to the National Enquirer in exchange for $US150,000. The publication – whose parent company, American Media Inc., is helmed by David Pecker, a friend of Cohen and Trump, never ran McDougal’s story.

“So, what do you we got to pay for this, 150?” Trump asks, according to a transcript of the tape published by The Washington Post.

“Funding … Yes. Um, and it’s all the stuff,” Cohen responds.

At one point, using vague language, Cohen suggested he was planning on setting up a company “for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David,” according to the transcript.Cohen is known to have set up a company in Delaware called Essential Consultants LLC to hide payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels, another woman who said she had an affair with Trump.

Trump then appears to interject. He can be heard saying “pay with cash,” to which Cohen says, “No, I got it,” before Trump says, “Check.”

The recording ends abruptly at that point.

Commentators on Tuesday night were quick to try to interpret the conversation, but there was no clear consensus about who said what or what they meant.

Trump’s current lead defence attorney, Rudy Giuliani, insisted that Trump actually said “don’t pay in cash” on the recording.During an interview with the Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Giuliani said, “There’s no way the president is going to be talking about setting up a corporation and then using cash, unless you are complete idiot.”

Giuliani continued: “When I urge people to do is go online and listen to your broadcast. Play it three times. The third time you play it, it will become clear … I have dealt with much worse tapes than this.”

“There’s no crime here,” the Harvard professor and attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has generally been sympathetic to the Trump legal team’s arguments, said on CNN. “Worst-case scenario, take everything Lanny Davis says as true. There’s no crime. There’s no impeachable offence. This is all about how the president looks in the court of public opinion … I think they will win that fight because the tape is ambiguous.”

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who is suing Trump and Cohen, said of the president’s former lawyer: “He realises that he’s about to be indicted for some very serious offenses and he’s trying to push the reset button.”

“I’m hearing two criminal coconspirators conspiring on making a payment, and I’m hearing Michael Cohen being the sycophant that he is for the president,” Avenatti said.

Listen to the audio below:

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