Trump denies wrongdoing, says lawyer's tape 'perhaps illegal'

Michael Cohen

Modal Trigger Michael Cohen Getty Images

In a statement Friday, President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed the recording's existence and said no payment was ever made. That conversation took place weeks before Trump's November 2016 election.

President Donald Trump took a direct shot at his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen Saturday, tweeting that it was "perhaps illegal" for his former fixer to have recorded their conversations, including at least one related to hush money to silence a Playboy model who says she had an affair with him. The Trump administration had previously denied knowing anything about such a payment.

Giuliani said no campaign funding was involved in the discussion between Trump and Cohen, who has distanced himself from Trump in recent months as the FBI investigates Cohen's business dealings.

Late on Sunday night NZ time, Trump took to Twitter, saying "that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) - nearly unheard of". "Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal". He said Trump did not know he was being recorded and claimed that the president had done nothing wrong. The payment was never made, he said. This gives the FBI access to the recording as part of the United States attorney for the Southern District of NY investigation into Cohen.

Cohen's recording adds to questions about whether Trump tried to quash damaging stories before the election.

David Pecker, the CEO and chairman of the National Enquirer's publisher American Media Inc, is a Trump supporter who has reportedly described the president as a "personal friend".

"In the big scheme of things, it's powerful exculpatory evidence", Giuliani said.

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Donald Trump with former Playboy model Karen McDougal in a photo that she posted in 2015.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible campaign law violations linked to paying 130000 dollars in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Sources close to the case say the conversation was secretly recorded by Cohen before the 2016 presidential election. It was not immediately clear where Trump and Cohen were located at the time of the call. She turned down the offer and began a relationship that included, she said, interactions between the two "many dozens of times".

In the conversation, Cohen and Trump discussed purchasing the rights to McDougal's story from American Media Inc., since the company, which publishes the National Enquirer, had already bought the rights to her story, according to sources familiar with the audio recording.

McDougal, 47, alleges that she had a 10-month romantic affair with Trump in 2006.

She filed a lawsuit against AMI this year seeking to regain the rights to her story and settled with the company in April.

Two people familiar with the conversation said Cohen was suggesting Trump buy the rights from AMI.

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