President Trump Calls Former Lawyer Michael Cohen's Phone-Taping 'Perhaps Illegal'

Michael Cohen

On Friday, the New York Times was the first to report that Cohen secretly recorded a brief conversation two months before the 2016 election in which he and Trump discussed the possibility of paying off Karen McDougal, an ex-Playboy who says she had a yearlong affair with Trump beginning in 2006.

The recording was among the documents and materials seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during a raid of Cohen's hotel, residence and office in April.

"Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) - nearly unheard of", Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday morning. "Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal".

He added that there was some good news out of the debacle after all, "the good news is that your favourite President did nothing wrong!".

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On Saturday, Giuliani told Reuters the conversation was held at Trump's office in Trump Tower and that Cohen used a hidden device to record the conversation. Trump has denied any affair with either Daniels or McDougal.

The National Enquirer, however, did not publish the story.

Federal prosecutors in NY are investigating Mr Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and other matters related to Mr Trump's campaign, a person familiar with the investigation has told Reuters.

McDougal said she sold her story for $1,50,000 (Rs 1.03 crore) to The National Enquirer, a tabloid published by the American Media Inc and supportive of Trump, during the final months of the presidential campaign. "And any attempt to spin can not change what is on the tape".

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Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed to The Times that Trump discussed payments to McDougal with Cohen, but he said that ultimately no payment was made. When he learned of their existence, he was reportedly stunned.

"In the big scheme of things, it's powerful exculpatory evidence", Giuliani said.

A source familiar with the tape said Cohen recommends buying the rights to the story, and Trump asks questions about how they would go about doing that. David Pecker, the chairman of parent company American Media Inc (AMI), is Trump's friend.

In May, President Trump admitted that he had reimbursed Mr Cohen for a payment he made to another woman to hush up her claims of an affair. However, 11 states, including Florida, where Trump spends a lot of time, do require both people in a conversation are aware a recording is taking place.

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I been watching you", he wrote in one of the notes, according to information obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation . When the police asked him if he had any idea why he was being asked questions, he reportedly responded "Ashley Tinsley".

Trump, who married first lady Melania Trump in January 2005, has repeatedly denied having an affair with McDougal, the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year. But the agreement meant that McDougal signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from revealing the affair.

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