Politics

Recording released of Trump and Cohen discussing buying rights to story about Playboy model

Key Points
  • An audio recording was made public Tuesday night appearing to feature Donald Trump, while running for president in 2016, talking with his then-attorney Michael Cohen about paying for the rights to a Playboy model’s story about her alleged affair with Trump.
  • CNN said it obtained the tape from Cohen's lawyer Laney Davis.

An audio recording was made public Tuesday night appearing to feature Donald Trump, while running for president in 2016, talking with his then-attorney Michael Cohen about paying for the rights to a Playboy model’s story about her alleged affair with Trump.

CNN released the muddled and roughly three-minute-long tape, saying it had acquired the recording from Cohen’s lawyer Laney Davis. It was not clear whether the recording, which was made in September 2016, had been edited or altered.

Trump himself weighed in on the tape Wednesday morning.

In a tweet, the president attacked Cohen for taping him, questioned the recording's integrity, and appeared to lament that Cohen recorded conversations with journalists and other clients.

In the tape, Cohen can be heard telling Trump that he would “have to pay” for the rights to Karen McDougal’s story about the alleged affair. McDougal sold the rights to her story to American Media, or AMI, which publishes the National Enquirer. The story was never published and McDougal was released from the contract in April.

Cohen told Trump that he plans to set up a company to finance the purchase of the rights from AMI and has consulted Allen Weisselberg — chief financial officer of The Trump Organization — on the process of doing that, according to the recording.

AMI, The Trump Organization and the White House didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Trump and Cohen also discussed how to pay for the rights in the recording, with Trump heard saying “pay with cash.” It isn’t clear whether he suggested or discouraging paying with cash.

A source told CNBC last week that Trump had, in fact, raised the idea of paying McDougal with cash.

Alan Futerfas, lawyer for The Trump Organization, told NBC that Trump had meant he opposed paying for the rights.

“When the word ‘cash’ is used, it’s in opposition to financing. It’s like when you’re buying a house, and a person says — are you going to get financing, or are you paying cash? It’s identical context — no one expects or understands you’re showing up to the closing with green currency,” Futerfas said, adding that the proposed deal with AMI “never happened.”

Read CNN's report on the Trump-Cohen audio recording