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Trump On Recording Released By Cohen: 'What Kind Of A Lawyer Would Tape A Client?'

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, seen in June,  released a tape of what seems to be then-candidate Trump and him discussing payments to a former Playboy model.
Timothy A. Clary
AFP/Getty Images
President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, seen in June, released a tape of what seems to be then-candidate Trump and him discussing payments to a former Playboy model.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

President Trump lashed out at his former lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday after Cohen released a tape on which the two discuss buying the story of a woman who said she had an affair with Trump. His current lawyer denies that payment took place.

"What kind of lawyer would tape a client?" Trump asked in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

He also suggested there was more to the recording than what has been aired so far: "So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things?"

Cohen released the tape of himself seeming to talk with then-candidate Trump about payments to a former Playboy model who alleges she had an affair with Trump while he was married to his current wife, first lady Melania Trump.

Trump denies the affair. The former model, Karen McDougal, has given extensive interviews about it.

The existence of the tape and the substance of its conversation had been public, but broadcast networks have begun airing it since it was obtained by CNN on Tuesday night.

American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, purchased the rights to McDougal's story for $150,000 but never published the story. The practice has been described as "catch and kill."

On the tape, Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing payments to AMI Chairman David Pecker, a friend of Trump's.

"I need to open up a company for the transfer of all that info regarding our friend David," Cohen says.

Trump then asks, "What financing?"

Cohen replies, "We'll have to pay."

The tape becomes difficult to understand at that point. Trump seems to say, "Pay with cash," but Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani released a transcript in which he alleges Trump says: "Don't pay with cash."

Giuliani has said that Cohen ultimately never made the payment that Cohen discussed with Trump.

Trump has admitted paying — via Cohen — another woman who has alleged a sexual relationship with him: porn actress Stormy Daniels, although Trump denies there was a relationship.

A spokeswoman for the first lady responded to a question about the tape stories with a written statement:

Did you know that every 15 minutes a baby is born with [neonatal abstinence syndrome]? 

Maybe you'd like to talk about the 160,000 kids who skip school every day for fear of being bullied, or that 280,000 students are physically attacked in schools every month.

Seems kind of silly to worry about what channel [Melania Trump] watches on TV (any channel she wants btw) or if she heard some recording on the news.

The company that Cohen set up to make the Daniels payment has been connected to payments from a number of corporations seeking access to Trump early in his administration. Cohen is facing criminal charges related to his business practices in federal court in New York City.

NPR correspondent Sarah McCammon contributed to this report

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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