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…and the Feds have got the recording.

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Author Topic: …and the Feds have got the recording.  (Read 71 times)
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Having fun in the hills!

« on: July 21, 2018, 04:46:01 pm »

from The New York Times…

Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump
Discussing Payment to Playboy Model

The F.B.I. seized the recording in a raid. Its existence recording highlights the
potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to the president.


The Justice Department is investigating the involvement of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. — Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters.
The Justice Department is investigating the involvement of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, in
paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
 — Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters.

WASHINGTON D.C. — President Trump's long-time lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen's office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen's involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

The recording's existence appears to undercut the Trump campaign's denial of any knowledge of payments to the model. It further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret. And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump's secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors.

The former model, Karen McDougal, says she began a nearly year-long affair with Mr. Trump in 2006, shortly after Mr. Trump's wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. Ms. McDougal sold her story for $150,000 to The National Enquirer, which was supportive of Mr. Trump, during the final months of the presidential campaign, but the tabloid sat on the story, which kept it from becoming public. The practice, known as “catch and kill,” effectively silenced Ms. McDougal for the remainder of the campaign.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, confirmed in a telephone conversation on Friday that Mr. Trump had discussed payments to Ms. McDougal with Mr. Cohen in person on the recording. He said that it was less than two minutes long and that Mr. Trump did not know he was being recorded, and he claimed that the president had done nothing wrong.

Mr. Giuliani said there was no indication on the tape that Mr. Trump knew before the conversation about the payment from The Enquirer's parent company, American Media Incorporated, to Ms. McDougal.

“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Mr. Giuliani said. The recording cuts off, according to three people familiar with it, and it is not clear how the discussion ended.

Mr. Giuliani initially indicated the men discussed a payment from Mr. Trump to Ms. McDougal — separate from The Enquirer's payment — to buy her story. Later, he said Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen had actually discussed buying the rights to Ms. McDougal's story from The Enquirer. Such a move would have effectively reimbursed the newspaper for its payments to her, though Mr. Giuliani disputed that characterization.

That payment was never made, Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Cohen that if he were to make a payment related to Ms. McDougal, to write a check rather than send cash, so it could be properly documented.

A person close to Mr. Cohen disputed Mr. Giuliani's description of the discussion over how to pay A.M.I. for the rights to Ms. McDougal's story and suggested the tape would back up Mr. Cohen.

Neither of Mr. Giuliani's descriptions of the conversations explains why, when The Wall Street Journal revealed the existence of the A.M.I. payment days before the election, Mr. Trump's campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said, “We have no knowledge of any of this.” She said Ms. McDougal's claim of an affair was “totally untrue.”

Mr. Cohen's lawyers discovered the recording as part of their review of the seized materials and shared it with Mr. Trump's lawyers, according to the three people briefed on the matter.

“Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that,” Mr. Cohen's lawyer, Lanny J. Davis, said in a statement. “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.”

Mr. Cohen rejected repeated requests for comment. Mr. Trump ignored shouted questions about it from reporters as he left the White House on Friday afternoon and departed for a weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

David J. Pecker, the chairman of A.M.I., is a friend of Mr. Trump's, and Ms. McDougal has accused Mr. Cohen of secretly taking part in the deal — an allegation that is now part of the F.B.I. investigation.

“It can't be more than a minute and a half,” Mr. Giuliani said, referring to the length of the conversation. “Twice someone walks in — someone brings soda in for them. It's not some secret conversation.”

He added: “Neither one seems to be concerned anyone would hear it. It went off on irrelevant subjects that have nothing to do with this. It’s a very professional conversation between a client and a lawyer and the client saying, ‘Do it right’.”

Because the tape showed Mr. Trump learning about the A.M.I. payment, it actually helps Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani argued. “In the big scheme of things, it's powerful exculpatory evidence,” he said. The person close to Mr. Cohen disputed that claim but would not elaborate.

The recording is potential evidence in the campaign finance investigation, but became tied up in a legal fight over what materials are protected by attorney-client privilege and thus off limits to prosecutors. It is not clear whether a federal judge has ruled on whether prosecutors can listen to the recording.

For a decade, Mr. Cohen served as one of Mr. Trump's most trusted fixers, aggressively taking on journalists, opposing lawyers and business adversaries. He frequently taped his conversations, unbeknown to the people with whom he was speaking. New York law allows one party to a conversation to tape conversations without the other knowing.

Mr. Cohen used to say he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump, but the relationship soured in the aftermath of the F.B.I. raids in April. In one conversation, Mr. Cohen's lawyers inquired whether Mr. Trump planned to pardon him, but Mr. Trump's lawyers gave no indication that the president would do so, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

Mr. Cohen has publicly and privately discussed the idea of cooperating with the F.B.I. In an interview with ABC News this month, Mr. Cohen seemed to openly invite prosecutors to talk to him.

“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Mr. Cohen said. “I put family and country first.” The words got Mr. Trump’s attention, and he asked people if they thought Mr. Cohen was trying to send a message, either to him or the Justice Department.

The Cohen investigation began with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating the Trump campaign's links to Russia. But as the Cohen case became increasingly focused on Mr. Cohen's personal business dealings and his campaign activities unrelated to Russia, Mr. Mueller referred it to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who are now leading the investigation.

The wide-ranging search warrants served on Mr. Cohen this spring show that prosecutors are investigating Mr. Cohen's involvement in payments to silence women about their relationships with Mr. Trump. In addition to Ms. McDougal's arrangement, prosecutors also sought evidence of payments to the adult film star Stephanie Clifford, who is better known as Stormy Daniels.

Mr. Trump has denied knowing about those payments, though people familiar with the arrangement have said he was aware of them. But his denial helped suppress public allegations of an affair during the final months of the campaign.

Such payments, depending on how and why they were made, could represent campaign finance violations — a case that harks back to the failed prosecution of the former Democratic senator John Edwards, who tried to hide a pregnant mistress during his presidential campaign.

Mr. Cohen's case is unusual because the payment to Ms. McDougal was made by American Media Incorporated. In August 2016, A.M.I. bought the rights to her story about Mr. Trump for $150,000 and a commitment to use its magazines to promote her career as a fitness specialist.

Among the matters prosecutors are investigating is whether A.M.I. considered selling or reassigning Ms. McDougal's contract to a third party, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Federal agents are also scrutinizing Mr. Cohen's personal financial dealings and whether he committed fraud by lying about his assets on bank forms. In particular, the authorities are scrutinizing taxi medallions that Mr. Cohen owned, and whether he accurately accounted for their value, according to several people close to the case.


Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington D.C., and Maggie Haberman from New York. William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York.

Matt Apuzzo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in Washington D.C. He has covered law enforcement and security matters for more than a decade and is the co-author of the book Enemies Within. A graduate of Colby College, he joined The New York Times in 2014 after 11 years with the Associated Press. He teaches journalism at Georgetown University and once successfully argued a motion from the audience in federal court.

Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The New York Times in February 2015 as a campaign correspondent. Previously, Ms. Haberman worked as a political reporter at Politico from 2010 to 2015 and at other publications including the New York Post and New York Daily News. She was a finalist for the Mirror Awards, with Glenn Thrush, for What is Hillary Clinton Afraid of? which was published in 2014. Her hobbies include singing, and she is married with three children.

Michael S. Schmidt is an American journalist and correspondent for The New York Times in Washington, D.C. and national security contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

• A version of this article appears in The New York Post on Saturday, July 21, 2018 of the New York print edition with the headline: “Lawyer's Secret Tape Reveals Trump's Talk Of Payments to Model”.


Related to this topic:

 • Trump Distances Himself From Cohen's Legal Troubles

 • Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater Threat Than Mueller

 • Raids on Trump's Lawyer Sought Records of Payments to Women

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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2018, 04:47:15 pm »

I wonder how many recordings of conversations of Trump there are?

And I wonder if they are all now in possession of the Feds?

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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2018, 02:46:27 pm »

from The Washington Post…

‘This is not the only tape’: Michael Avenatti says
there are more secret recordings of Trump

After Stormy Daniels's lawyer makes claims about Michael Cohen, Cohen's attorney says
neither he nor his client have cooperated with or provided any information to Avenatti.

By FELICIA SONMEZ | 4:04PM EDT — Sunday, July 22, 2018

Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, talks to reporters as he leaves court in New York on May 30. — Photograph: Seth Wenig/Associated Press.
Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, talks to reporters as he leaves court in New York on May 30. — Photograph: Seth Wenig/Associated Press.

MICHAEL AVENATTI has a warning for President Trump: More tapes are out there.

At a roundtable on Sunday on ABC News' “This Week, the lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels said that the secret recording of Trump that was revealed two days ago is far from the only one made by Trump's long-time attorney Michael Cohen.

“This is not the only tape,” Avenatti said. “I can tell you that for a fact. There's multiple tapes.”

He added: “That, ultimately, is going to prove to be a big problem for the president. You know, that old adage, ‘You've lived by the sword, you die by the sword’, is going to be true in this case, because the president knew that his attorney, Michael Cohen, had a predisposition toward taping conversations with people.”

On Friday, three people with knowledge of the conversation told The Washington Post that Cohen had secretly taped a discussion with Trump in September 2016 about whether to purchase the rights to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal's account of her alleged affair with Trump.

That conversation took place one month after AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, bought the rights to McDougal's story for $150,000 and then shelved it.

Cohen is being investigated for potential bank and election-law crimes. The recording was among the records seized in an FBI raid of his office and residences in April, multiple people familiar with the probe said.

One of Trump's attorneys, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said in a statement on Friday that the September 2016 recording is “powerful exculpatory evidence.” Even so, Trump lashed out at Cohen in a tweet on Saturday, claiming that it was “totally unheard of & perhaps illegal” that his attorney would tape him, despite the fact that New York's wiretapping law permits the recording of conversations so long as at least one party agrees.

Avenatti is representing Daniels, who was paid $130,000 by Cohen in exchange for her silence about an alleged decade-old affair with Trump. Avenatti has a history of taunting the president with claims to have more information on Trump's alleged indiscretions. In March, he tweeted an image of what appeared to be a DVD and said he was sending a “warning shot” to the president regarding his denials of an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

During Sunday's roundtable, retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, an informal Trump adviser, pressed Avenatti to reveal how he knew of the existence of additional tapes, arguing that the leak of such information could represent a potential violation of lawyer-client privilege.

“You're not in a position where you have been given that information properly,” Dershowitz said in one heated exchange.

Avenatti declined to reveal any details, maintaining that the only way he would have acted improperly would have been if he received the tape from someone in law enforcement.

“All of the information that the FBI seized, that's not under lock and key,” he said, adding: “I could have received it from Michael Cohen. I could have received it from one of Michael Cohen's counsel. I could have received it from others.”

Avenatti also noted that he ran into Cohen on Monday at a restaurant in New York City and that the two had a “very fruitful” conversation.

“I think he is ready to tell the truth,” Avenatti said of Cohen. “And ultimately, I think he is going to cooperate with us as it relates for our search for the truth.”

In a statement, Cohen's attorney, Brent Blakely, said that neither he nor his client had cooperated with or provided any information to Avenatti. He added that they did not have “any interest whatsoever in cooperating with Mr. Avenatti to the detriment of President Donald Trump.”

“Mr. Cohen's legal matters will not be tried in the court of public opinion, but in a court of law,” Blakely said.


Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.

Felicia Sonmez is a national political reporter at The Washington Post covering breaking news from the White House, Congress and the campaign trail. Previously, she spent more than four years in Beijing, where she worked first as a correspondent for Agence France-Presse and later as the editor of The Wall Street Journal's China Real Time Report. She also spent a year in advanced Chinese language study as a Blakemore Freeman Fellow at Tsinghua University. From 2010 to 2013, she reported on national politics for The Washington Post, starting as a writer for The Fix and going on to cover Congress, the 2012 presidential campaign and the early days of President Barack Obama's second term. She began her career teaching English in Beijing and has also covered U.S. politics for the Asahi Shimbun and National Journal's the Hotline.


Related to this topic:

 • ‘Your favorite President did nothing wrong’: Trump lashes out at secret Cohen recording

 • VIDEO: Avenatti on Trump: ‘I had hoped that the office would change the man’

 • VIDEO: Who is Michael Avenatti?

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