Two months before the 2016 election, Michael Cohen—President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer—surreptitiously recorded Trump discussing a payment to a Playboy model who alleged she’d had an affair with the president.
The New York Times reported Friday that the FBI discovered the secret tape during its April raid of Cohen’s offices. The existence of the recording immediately raised questions about whether Cohen or other Trump associates might have secretly recorded any other potentially damaging conversations with Trump.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, confirmed the conversation to the Times but insisted that it ultimately exonerated Trump and claimed that the payment was never actually made. “Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani said, adding, “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence.”
In March, Karen McDougal, the model who alleges she had an affair with Trump back in 2006, told CNN that Trump attempted to pay her after they had sex. The former Playmate has claimed that the National Enquirer—which is run by a Trump ally—never published her story about the affair after purchasing it for $150,000. She is now suing the tabloid in an effort to nullify a legal arrangement that prevents her from publicly discussing the alleged tryst.