On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had secretly recorded the man who is now president discussing potential payments covering the story of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims to have had an affair with Trump.
That report touches on an issue at the center of an ongoing legal battle involving the Trump team and adult film star Stormy Daniels, who also says she had an affair with Trump — in short, what did the president know, and when did he know it?
Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti wants whatever answer can be provided via any audio recordings that Cohen made of the president. He responded to the news of a tape of Trump discussing hush money by re-upping a past call he made for the “Trump tapes” to be released.
Captioning a retweet of a video of remarks of his from May, Avenatti wrote:
‘Here is what I said less than two months ago. I demanded the release of what I called the
#TrumpTapes then, and I am demanding the release of them again now.’
In the original video, he called on “all of those audio recordings” to be released for both public consumption and Congressional scrutiny. He pushed the idea for some time that was eventually confirmed by Rudy Giuliani that Trump knew more about hush money given his client than he let on.
The tape that came to light Friday includes Trump discussing buying the rights to McDougal’s story from AMI, a Trump-aligned media company that had previously purchased the rights to the story from McDougal herself. Among the specifics is that Trump wanted Cohen to use a check for the payment — which was never made — for effective documentation.
McDougal’s lawyer Carol Heller indicated Friday that she had no prior knowledge of Trump and Cohen seeking to take on the rights to her client’s story themselves.
— Carol R. Heller (@CarolRHeller) July 20, 2018
McDougal was formally freed from her agreement with AMI earlier this year after the story of Stormy Daniels and the $130,000 in hush money Cohen sent her emerged.
Daniels pursued her own case with her lawyer Michael Avenatti against Cohen and Trump for some time earlier this year before the criminal investigation into Cohen emerged. That investigation encompasses issues including both McDougal’s and Daniels’ stories.
Cohen has been backed into a corner, thanks to that investigation, and left without the backing of the president, who has chosen to distance himself. That could cost him if Cohen flips and cooperates with either the prosecutors behind the criminal investigation into his activities or Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller’s team.
It’s not clear, though, that Cohen himself and any new animosity he has for the president could weigh on whether the “Trump Tapes” become publicly available. At least the one newly reported on Friday is in the government’s possession, and any others no doubt are as well thanks to the government seizure of massive troves of files from Cohen earlier this year.
Avenatti has, actually, gotten information that may have come from the government out to the public before. He got information about Cohen’s financial activities from internal government reports; that information revealed the partnerships Cohen made with large corporations like Novartis and AT&T.
What consequences either Cohen or Trump may face as this scandal continues remain to be seen.
Check out Twitter’s response below.
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