WASHINGTON — CNN has obtained a tape in which Donald Trump and his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, discuss buying the rights to Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story, in which she alleges she had an affair with Trump.
CNN ran the audio of the recording on Chris Cuomo’s primetime show. The network obtained the recording from Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, who also appeared on the program.
McDougal alleged that she had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006. In the recording, made in September 2016, Trump and Cohen discuss acquiring the rights to her story from American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer. AMI is headed by Trump’s friend David Pecker. The Enquirer never ran the story.
“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen is heard saying, apparently a reference to Pecker.
Trump asks, “What financing?” He is heard saying “pay with cash,” and Cohen says “no no,” and then Trump says “check.” But it is difficult to determine what else was said in that portion of the audio to put it entirely in context.
The tape was among about a dozen recordings that were seized by the FBI during a raid on Cohen’s office in April.
Davis defended his client and suggested that Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had misrepresented the contents of the tape. He has said that no payment was ever made.
“This is about honesty versus false disparagement of Michael Cohen. Why is Giuliani out falsely disparaging Michael Cohen? Because they fear him,” Davis said. He said that when Trump said “cash,” it was Cohen who said “no, no, no.”
On Fox News on Tuesday, Giuliani insisted that on the tape Trump says “Don’t pay with cash.” “There’s no way the president is going to be talking about setting up a corporation and then using cash, unless you are a complete idiot and the president is not an idiot,” Giuliani said.
A spokesman for American Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
American Media said in April that it had reached an “amicable resolution” with McDougal. She sued the company in March, claiming that she was paid $150,000 by AMI for her limited life rights but restricted in talking to the media.
“Ms. McDougal has always been free to talk about her relationship with President Trump — at least since her 2016 amendment of her contract with AMI — as her 90 minute interview with Anderson Cooper made clear,” the company said. They also announced an agreement to feature her on the cover of Men’s Journal in September and to publish columns written by her.