Michael Cohen has a recording of Donald Trump discussing a hush money payout to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Now the FBI has it too.
The New York Times reports that Cohen secretly recorded a conversation with Trump “in which they discussed payments” to McDougal, who claims she had a year-long affair with Trump shortly after his wife Melania gave birth.
The FBI seized the recording, along with many others, when it raided Cohen’s offices earlier this year. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer is under investigation for potential campaign finance violations—such as paying off women who claimed affairs with Trump—along with bank fraud and other crimes.
Cohen is thought to be discussing potential cooperation with US federal prosecutors, who are pursuing his case after receiving information from special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed to the Times the tape’s existence and contents, but “said the payment was ultimately never made.”
The conversation took place after American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer, signed a $150,00 contract with McDougal for the rights to her story, in what was seen as a “catch and kill” tactic used by the tabloid to bury the news. American Media CEO David Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump.
McDougal’s former lawyer, Keith Davidson, who negotiated the American Media deal, also represented Stormy Daniels. The adult film star received a large hush money payout from Cohen, though Trump’s knowledge of or involvement in the payment is in dispute.
The Washington Post, citing a source familiar with the Cohen-Trump tape, reported that the men “were discussing a plan by Cohen to attempt to purchase the rights to McDougal’s story from AMI for roughly $150,000.”