Two months before the 2016 election, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded a discussion between him and Trump about paying a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Trump. The tape was seized by the F.B.I. this year when they raided Cohen’s office.
On the tape, the woman that Cohen and Trump discuss sending hush money to is Playboy model Karen McDougal. McDougal claimed to have an affair with Trump in 2006 while he was married to Melania. In fact, Melania had just had their son Barron. During Trump’s campaign, McDougal sold the story of her affair to The National Enquirer but the chairman of The Eniquirer’s parent company David Pecker is friends with Trump, and her story was never published. McDougal has now accused Cohen of being involved in the deal that kept her story from being published and seen by the public before Trump’s election.
The raid of Cohen’s office, which produced the recording, was part of an ongoing investigation into what role Cohen played in silencing women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, or any other story that could have hurt his chances before the election. Prosecutors are currently investigating whether or not this hush money violated campaign finance laws. Now, the F.B.I. are looking into McDougal’s allegations as well.
On Friday, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani confirmed to the New York Times Trump did discuss payments with Cohen in the recording. However, he went on to say that the payment was never made and Trump didn’t know about it before that conversation. He said, “Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance.” He also claimed that Trump had done nothing wrong, as always. “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” he said.
However, a payment was made to McDougal. Just days before the 2016 election, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the National Enquirer’s parent company AMI agreed to pay $150,000 to McDougal when she attempted to sell her story to them. They released a statement that said they were not buying her story but two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers as well as “exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man.” Basically, they bought the rights to the story but never had any intention of publishing it. The statement went on to say, “AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump” despite the fact that buying rights to a story and then refusing to release it to the public eye is the definition of killing a “damaging story.”
At the time, Trump’s spokeswoman said, “We have no knowledge of any of this” and claimed McDougal’s story was “totally untrue.” Thanks to Cohen’s sneaky recording skills, this has also been proven to be a lie.