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The New York Times reports President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen secretly recorded a conversation with Trump regarding payments made to a former Playboy model who claims to have had an affair with the president. Nathan Rousseau Smith has more. Buzz60

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded a conversation in which he and Trump discussed payments to a formerPlayboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

The person, who has reviewed the transcript of the contact but who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the recording was made about two months before the 2016 election and was among the materials seized during an April FBI raid on Cohen's office, home and hotel room.

No payment was made following the discussion, the source said, adding that additional recordings involving the two men are believed to exist. The contents of those recordings were not immediately clear. 

The development was first reported Friday by The New York Times. The Wall Street Journal reported subsequently that the conversation took place in person.

In an interview with The Times, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed Trump discussed the payments with Cohen on the tape, but he asserted that Trump did not engage in any wrongdoing.

"Nothing in that conversation suggests he had any knowledge of it in advance," Giuliani said.

Lanny Davis, one of Cohen's lawyers, claimed in a written statement late Friday that the contents of the recording would not be damaging for his client.

“Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that," Davis said. "But suffice it to say that when the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen. Any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape.”

The revelation casts a fresh spotlight on efforts before the presidential campaign to put the lid on damaging disclosures about Trump, as well as the trove of information Cohen might possess as he weighs cooperating with prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating whether Cohen's actions, including a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, violated campaign-finance laws as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe into the longtime Trump fixer.

Daniels, who said she had sex with Trump in 2006, received $130,000 from Cohen days before the election in exchange for her silence. After months of denials, Trump in May filed a financial disclosure report showing he reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels' payment.

The taped conversation now in the FBI's possession involves Karen McDougal, a former Playboy centerfold who said she had an affair with Trump that began in 2006. McDougal received a $150,000 payment in August 2016 from the parent company of the National Enquirer. But the tabloid did not publish the story, keeping it out of public view.

The head of the Enquirer's parent company, David Pecker, is a Trump ally. In a lawsuit she has since settled, McDougal argued that Cohen secretly intervened in the deal she struck with the tabloid's owner.

Daniels, meanwhile, is suing to break free of her confidentiality agreement.

Trump has denied the affairs.

Lawyers representing Cohen and Trump have wrangled in court with prosecutors over the millions of items – documents, emails, files and other material – seized from Cohen's office, home and hotel room this year. A lawyer representing Cohen previously has said "audio files" were among the materials seized.

More: Court-ordered review in Cohen raid yields 1.3M items for government

More: Trump associate Michael Cohen hires longtime Clinton ally Lanny Davis

 

 

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