Michael Cohen, longtime personal attorney to President Donald Trump, secretly recorded the then-presidential candidate discussing a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, alleged to have had an affair with Trump, The New York Times reported Friday.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney representing the president in various ongoing scandals, confirmed the tape’s existence, but dismissed its significance by saying that it was less than two minutes long, according to the Times.
He also claimed that the recording suggests that Trump had no previous knowledge of the payment.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani said.
Cohen has been embroiled in an FBI investigation and scandals involving secret payments to silence both McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels, who has also said she had an affair with Trump. Investigators are probing the extent to which Cohen, who is seen as Trump’s fixer, helped cover up other matters involving Trump and whether he violated campaign finance laws.
Earlier this year, Trump initially denied knowledge of the payment to Daniels, but later admitted Cohen represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” making it more difficult for him to distance himself from Cohen.
McDougal has accused Cohen of being involved in a deal with the tabloid the National Enquirer to kill her story of the alleged affair. She has claimed that she approached the tabloid with the story in 2016, but it was never made public. David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., the National Enquirer’s parent company, is a friend of Trump’s.
Numerous other stories about alleged misconduct involving Trump emerged during the 2016 election, including sexual misconduct allegations from at least 20 women and an infamous recording of Trump bragging about sexual assault.