An audiotape of a conversation between Donald Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen establishes that Trump knew of a payoff to a mistress before the 2016 Presidential election.
The two men discuss the possible revelation of a 10-month affair between Trump and Karen McDougal in 2006-2007, soon after Trump’s marriage to Melania Knauss and the birth of their son Barron.
McDougal sold her account to National Enquirer for $150,000, whose CEO David Pecker is a close friend of Trump’s. The tabloid then effectively killed the story by refusing to publish it, and McDougal — bound by an exclusive agreement — could not speak about the matter.
In the audio — the first of 12 that has been approved for court proceedings as Cohen faces criminal charges over financial affairs — the lawyer refers to the agreement with Pecker to hush up the episode, “Um, I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David.”
Trump then refers to the reimbursement of Pecker, “So what do you got to pay for this…150….”
“Yes,” Cohen replies. “Um, and it’s all the stuff.”
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani insisted the discussion had nothing to hush money for McDougal: “It doesn’t. That’s open to interpretation, and we can have a fight about that.”
He added a defense of ignorance: “To me it sounds like Cohen is explaining something to [Trump] that he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t seem that familiar with anything. There is nothing to indicate he knew anything in advance.”
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said he acted because of earlier declarations by Giuliani: “It became necessary to rebut false statements. We were not going to let Michael become a punching bag.”
Asked if more recordings will be released, Davis said, “There are a lot of other tapes.”