Trump ‘secretly recorded discussing payment to Playboy model’

Michael Cohen
Mr Cohen once boasted of his loyalty to Mr Trump and said he would take a bullet for him

US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen made recordings of his client discussing payments to a former Playboy model, US media report.

The tapes were reportedly discovered during an FBI raid on Mr Cohen’s property earlier this year in New York.

The New York Times reports that on the recording Mr Trump and Mr Cohen discuss paying Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with Mr Trump.

The tape was reportedly made two months before the election.

The Department of Justice is looking into alleged hush money paid to women who claim they had a relationship with Mr Trump.

On Friday, another Trump lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, confirmed to the New York Times that the president had discussed the payments with Mr Cohen on the tape.

But he said no money was actually ever transferred, and the recording itself amounted to “powerful exculpatory evidence”.

In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, Ms McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer, which is owned by a personal friend of Mr Trump, for $150,000 (£115,000).

Karen McDougal
Karen McDougal says she was tricked into staying silent about the alleged affair.

But the supermarket tabloid did not publish her kiss-and-tell, and she had said she was tricked.

Ms McDougal says she had a 10-month affair with Mr Trump in 2006, a year after he wed Melania Trump.

In May, President Trump admitted that he had reimbursed Mr Cohen for a payment to another woman to hush up her claims of an affair.

He had previously denied all knowledge of the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Ms Daniels says she and Mr Trump had sex in a hotel room in Lake Tahoe, a resort area between California and Nevada, in 2006.

The matter is a potential problem for Mr Trump because undisclosed payments to bury embarrassing stories about a political candidate can be treated as a violation of US campaign finance laws.

Mr Cohen – who once vowed he would take a bullet for Mr Trump – told ABC News this month that his loyalty is to his family and country came before his old boss.

His comments stoked speculation that Mr Cohen could co-operate with investigators against Mr Trump, but there has been no indication so far that he has done so.

The president has said that Mr Cohen is no longer his personal lawyer.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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