Cohen secretly recorded Trump discussing Playmate payment; Giuliani calls it 'exculpatory'

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Michael Cohen/a katz (Shutterstock.com).

Donald Trump discussed payments to an ex-Playboy model in a conversation secretly recorded by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen two months before the election, Rudy Giuliani acknowledged in a conversation with the New York Times.

But the recording is less than two minutes long and it will show that Trump did nothing wrong, according to Giuliani, who is currently the president’s personal lawyer. The recording was reportedly seized by the FBI during its raid on Cohen’s office in April, according to the Times.

Such a conversation would be of “keen interest” to prosecutors who are interested in potential violations of federal campaign finance laws, according to the Times.

But Giuliani said no payment was made by Trump to model Karen McDougal, who had alleged an affair with Trump in 2006. McDougal had sold her story about the alleged affair to the National Enquirer for $150,000 in the last months of the presidential campaign, but the story was never published. McDougal has claimed that Cohen secretly participated in the deal.

Nothing in Trump’s conversation suggests advance knowledge about the payment by the National Enquirer, Giuliani said. Trump and Cohen had discussed a separate payment from Trump to McDougal to buy her story and ensure her silence, Giuliani said.

Trump had said that if a payment was made, it should be done with a check rather than cash so it could be properly documented, according to Giuliani. But no payment was made.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani said of the recorded conversation.

In April, McDougal reached a settlement with the publisher of the National Enquirer that allowed her to go public with allegations of the affair. She had claimed there was no obligation to stay silent because of failures by her own lawyer, who didn’t tell her about the contract’s fine print.

Trump has denied the affair.

Early Saturday, Trump tweeted that it was “inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client—totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”

New York allows one party to tape a conversation without the other party knowing, the New York Times reported.

Updated July 21 to note Trump’s tweet.

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