President Donald Trump’s legal team decided today to waive attorney-client privilege claims on a Michael Cohen/Trump recording that reportedly discusses a payoff to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claimed a long affair with the president in 2006.
The recording was seized when the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office in April. A Special Master in Cohen’s case previously ruled the conversation privileged, and Trump adviser Rudy Guiliani has come out and said the conversation vindicates Trump’s claims that he had no knowledge of any payoff for McDougal’s silence. Any hush money that was not reported potentially would violate campaign financing laws for the 2016 election.
Trump complained on Saturday via Twitter that an attorney recording a client conversation is “inconceivable,” but New York law requires only one party to consent to any recordings of a conversation. It is unclear why Team Trump would waive its privilege on the recordings.
Cohen has been pressured by investigators to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The McDougal conversation would be a side issue to that, and, at worst, result in a fine. Trump has denied the woman’s claim that they had an affair in the mid-2000s.