President Donald Trump on Saturday responded to a New York Times report that revealed his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation about hush money payments to a former Playboy model 2 months before the 2016 presidential election.
According to the Times, the FBI seized the recording in April when they raided Cohen’s office and hotel rooms as part of an investigation into whether Cohen violated campaign finance laws, among other potential criminal acts.
What did Trump say?
He said the FBI’s raid on Cohen’s office was “inconceivable,” but alleged Cohen’s actions were “even more inconceivable” and “perhaps illegal.”
Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
According to the Times, the recording reveals a conversation between Trump and Cohen about buyings the rights to a story about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, who alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006, shortly after Trump’s youngest son, Barron, was born.
McDougal sold her story to The National Enquirer for $150,000, according to the Times. The Enquirer, whose owner claims to be “personal friends” with the president, never published the story, a practice known as “catch and kill” in the tabloid industry.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, confirmed the existence of the recording, but told the Times a payment was never made and the tape shows Trump did nothing wrong.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani said. “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence.”
Is the recording illegal?
Given the amount of information made public on Friday, it’s not yet clear.
However, as NBC News reported:
Laws on taping private conversations differ from state to state, and it is not clear where Cohen recorded Trump. New York state, for example, has a “one-party consent” law, which makes it a crime to record an in-person or telephone conversation unless one party participating in the conversation consents.