UPDATED with video: CNN has obtained the infamous recording secretly made by Donald Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen in which the future POTUS seems to acknowledge a long-denied affair with a former Playboy centerfold and a payoff made by a third party to squelch her story. The 2016 recording was played on-air tonight during Cuomo Prime Time.
“At the onset, it seems there’s one part of this conversation that matters most to both sides,” Cuomo said on air after playing it, “and they disagree about what is said and what it means. It involves the discussion of how this corporation that was being set up to supposedly buy back any potentially damaging stories about Trump would pay for any such properties.”
On that part of the recording, which is clear enough but not crystal, Cohen is heard discussing the matter and brings up its “financing” with then-candidate Trump, who asks, “What financing?” When Cohen says, “Well, I have to pay –,” Trump interrupts and says, “Pay with cash.” Cohen quickly replies, “No, no, no, no, no.”
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is on the record saying that it was Cohen who suggested paying off alleged former mistress Karen McDougal with cash — ostensibly to avoid a paper trail — but clearly it was Trump’s idea, one that Cohen nixed immediately.
The tape then cuts off abruptly.
Cuomo noted that Guiliani and other members of Trump legal team were invited to appear on his show but declined.
McDougal alleges that she and Trump an affair in 2006; Trump has steadfastly denied that. Crucially, Giuliani and Trump’s legal team waived the right to have that tape classified as falling under attorney-client privilege — with Guiliani saying the tape is of no concern to Trump and instead actually helps the president.
The payment to McDougal was made by longtime Trump friend and ally David Pecker, head of the National Enquirer’s parent company. Trump has denied not only the affair but knowledge that Pecker’s company paid her off then spiked its promised story about it in a so-called “catch and kill” move.
Prime Time host Chris Cuomo played the recording on his show, and his first guest was Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis, who gave him the tape. During their interview, Davis — who represented President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky matter — often spoke directly to the camera and used the term “ladies and gentlemen” to hammer home the point that he and the tape were contridicting what Giuliani had said about it in recent days.
Davis repeated several times that Giuliani — and the American people — know that “only drug dealers and mobsters” use cash to make payments.