News & Opinion | July 25, 2018 9:19 am

Michael Cohen Releases Secret Recording of Trump Conversation to CNN

The tape appears to show the president knew about hush money payments to a former Playboy model.

michael cohen
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trumps personal lawyer walks down Park Avenue in New York June 15, 2018 after leaving his hotel. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, escalated his dispute with the president by releasing a secret recording of a conversation in which Trump appears to know about hush money payments to a former Playboy model who alleges she had an affair with Trump nearly a decade ago.

The recording was broadcast on CNN. Though sometimes muddled, it provides details on payments to the former model, Karen McDougal. It does not definitively answer the question about whether Trump directed Cohen to make them in cash or by check just two months before the 2016 presidential election, according to The New York Times. 

Cohen is heard telling Trump that he will need to set up a company to arrange the payments. You hear Trump asking, “What financing?” and Cohen responding, “We’ll have to pay.” Trump appears to say, “Pay with cash.” Cohen then says, “No, no.” You can hear the word “check” uttered, but it is unclear by whom, and then the audio is cut off.

McDougal was paid $150,000 by The National Enquirer for her story in summer 2016, but they did not publish the story. According to people close to Cohen and Trump, the two men were discussing on the tape a second payment to The Enquirer that would continue to keep McDougal from speaking publicly about the president.

The president has said the recording might be “illegal.”