On Friday, The New York Times revealed longtime lawyer, fixer and confidant of President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, secretly recorded a discussion with then candidate Trump. The conversation took place two months before the 2016 presidential election and involved a story the Trump administration called "fake news."
While many point to the taped conversation as proof of the Trump administration lying about the President's 10 month long 2006 affair with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, Trump's current lawyer sees things differently.
Rudy Giuliani, current Trump lawyer and media spin doctor, confirmed the President discussed paying off McDougal, like he paid off Stephanie Clifford, to keep her silent. But the necessity of a payment by Cohen to McDougal was overcome by events.
McDougal claimed she received a $150,000 payment through American Media Inc, parent company of The National Enquirer, for exclusive rights to her story of her affair with the then married Trump. The National Enquirer never ran the story before the election however, but their exclusive deal with McDougal kept her silent as well.
"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance," said Giuliani regarding the recorded conversation. Giuliani claimed the men discussed only a payment from Trump to McDougal, not The National Enquirer payment.
Since Cohen nor Trump directly made the McDougal payment, Giuliani states the tape exonerates rather than implicates the President.
"It can’t be more than a minute and a half," Mr. Giuliani said, of the conversation. "Twice someone walks in — someone brings soda in for them. It’s not some secret conversation. Neither one seems to be concerned anyone would hear it."
It went off on irrelevant subjects that have nothing to do with this. It’s a very professional conversation between a client and a lawyer and the client saying, 'Do it right'."
The fact the "it" Trump talked of doing right involved paying off a woman the President had an affair with did not seem to bother his current lawyer.
Because the tape shows Trump finding out The National Enquirer already paid off his former mistress, Giuliani said this helps the President. Trump's legal spokesman stated,
In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence."
Exculpatory evidence is evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial that exonerates or tends to exonerate the defendant of guilt.
After Stephanie Clifford released her story of receiving a $130,000 payment, from Trump lawyer Cohen to buy her silence regarding a Trump tryst, McDougal came forward. Those payments became involved in a Defense Department probe into campaign finance laws after they were uncovered during the Special Counsel Robert Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
As part of the separate campaign finance investigation, the FBI raided Cohen's office and home in April. It was then the secret recordings were seized.
The duly signed search warrants show DOJ federal prosecutors focusing on Cohen’s involvement in payments to silence women regarding extramarital affairs Trump. Prosecutors wanted evidence of payments to Stephanie Clifford, who worked under the stage name of Stormy Daniels, and McDougal.
The payments, dependent on how and why the payments happened, could be campaign finance violations.
Giuliani's unique take on the tapes failed to gain much traction online.
👀👀👀 Source tells @GloriaBorger that the conversation between Trump and Cohen is not as Rudy Giuliani described. Thi… https://t.co/bF3f1lKFEP— MJ Lee (@MJ Lee)1532113024.0
1. The White House denied Trump knew ANYTHING about the payments to Karen McDougal in the days prior to the electio… https://t.co/Mc9AP2pMXa— Judd Legum (@Judd Legum)1532103936.0
@JuddLegum Hard to believe Rudy ever made any money as a lawyer.— Los Bad Hombres (@Los Bad Hombres)1532104247.0
@mendozasi10 @JuddLegum My brother's first case when he went out on his own as a lawyer was an insurance claim that… https://t.co/89eZ8qgfaN— C Borum (@C Borum)1532105425.0
@Ctborum @JuddLegum Nice! Sounds like Rudy is one of those one trick pony lawyers, riding on perceptions of the pa… https://t.co/mmHA9lXC27— Los Bad Hombres (@Los Bad Hombres)1532106786.0
@macubergeek @JuddLegum Pretty sure he learned exculpatory today.— Lisa resists 🤦🏼♀️🌊🏳️🌈 (@Lisa resists 🤦🏼♀️🌊🏳️🌈)1532105968.0
@lpalacios347 @macubergeek @JuddLegum Pretty sure he already forgot...— NotSoSilent (@NotSoSilent )1532114674.0
Really strange that Trump attorney Giuliani is talking about the tape to media and trying to spin it. That would ha… https://t.co/gbW9HN2hqe— Neal Katyal (@Neal Katyal)1532105447.0
Giuliani calls the Cohen-Trump tape "exculpatory." Exculpatory of what? The White House, prior to Election Day in 2… https://t.co/3dAzgZQ7ht— Tim O'Brien (@Tim O'Brien)1532105618.0
Rudy Giuliani confirmed that Trump had discussed the payments with Michael Cohen on the tape but the payment was ne… https://t.co/rh4sH5CMpF— Polly Sigh (@Polly Sigh)1532102641.0