Oh shiiiiiit. The FBI has obtained a recording, made two months before the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump talks about paying Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep quiet about their alleged affair.
The New York Times reports that former Trump lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who is cooperating with the FBI’s investigation, was cunning enough to covertly keep tabs on his client and secretly taped the conversations. They were among the many documents and files the FBI seized from Cohen’s office and home. Cohen, who publicly admitted to personally paying off Stormy Daniels for her silence ahead of the election, is under investigation by the Justice Department as they attempt to determine whether the Trump campaign violated campaign finance laws.
In April, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal revealed that The National Enquirer’s publisher American Media Inc. had paid her $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story about an affair with Trump in 2006, just after Melania gave birth to Barron, their first and only child together. A.M.I, run by Trump pal David J. Pecker, didn’t run the story.
Rudy Guiliani, a man who has managed to become relevant again as Trump’s personal lawyer, confirmed the existence of the tape but seemed unfazed by it. “Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” he told the Times.
More from the Times:
The men discussed a payment from Mr. Trump to Ms. McDougal — separate from the Enquirer payment — to buy her story, Mr. Giuliani said. Such a payment would ensure that Ms. McDougal was silenced going forward. No payment was ever made, Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Cohen that if he were to make a payment related to the woman, to write a check rather than send cash, so it could be properly documented.
Update 7/20, 2:27 p.m.: The Washington Post has reported a differing account of the recording, saying that the audio captures Trump and Cohen discussing payments to A.M.I for the story—not payments directly to McDougal. This is a developing story.