CNN aired the private audio recording that President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly made. The media has breathlessly insisted the tape would destroy Trump, but it turned out to be a big nothing burger. Again.
On the muffled recording, then-candidate Donald Trump is heard discussing some sort of “payment” with Michael Cohen where they debate whether the payment should be made in cash or by check.
Cohen says, “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David.” The reference was presumably about David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer tabloid.
Trump interrupts Cohen, asking, “What financing?”
Cohen replies: “We’ll have to pay.”
The recording is so muffled and low-quality that it’s hard to make out the context of this underwhelming audio.
Here’s some background: There are reports that Michael Cohen had paid David Pecker a fee to buy the rights to a story that former Playboy model Karen McDougal leaked about her alleged 2006 affair with Donald Trump.
American Media reportedly paid McDougal $150,000 in August 2016 for the exclusive rights to her story.
Michael Cohen discussed buying the rights to the story from American Media to keep it out of the news in the run-up to the November 2016 election. But the purchase never happened.
This is known in the media industry as a “catch and kill” fee, where a tabloid purchases the exclusive rights to a story but doesn’t publish it. This practice is legal and is common among celebrities, who sometimes buy the rights to a potentially embarrassing story in order to keep it out of the headlines.
President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, slammed Michael Cohen for secretly recording his client. This is a blatant violation of attorney-client privilege.
“Someone was leaking from their side, it can’t be ours,” Giuliani told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “There are 12 tapes with Cohen and the president.”
“[The tapes may have been leaked by] Avenatti or someone else. He has leaked things like, ‘there are more tapes with the president.’ [Alan] Dershowitz asked him how. It would be illegal for them to have that information.
In any event, there are no other tapes with the president. We have all of the tapes in our possession. We have transcripts of all them. We are comfortable with them.“
Even CNN host Chris Cuomo said on his show (when he played the tape) that recording a client could raise legal problems for Cohen, who was Trump’s attorney at the time.
“This recording could be argued to be the fruit of the poisonous tree,” Cuomo said. “As counsel, Michael Cohen shouldn’t have been recording his client.”
Laura Ingraham asked Rudy Giuliani if he has any concerns because Cohen is being represented by Lanny Davis, a Democratic lobbyist and longtime friend of Hillary Clinton.
Giuliani said he doesn’t, but he does question the poor legal strategy of publicizing an audio tape that an attorney secretly made of his own client.
Giuliani said, “I don’t have any concerns about that. [Lanny] is a lawyer and he has the right to represent who he wants. I question the strategy of doing this, of trying to make a tape say what it doesn’t say. Or of putting out a tape in which you’re a lawyer taping a client and then thinking you could cooperate with the government.”
Michael Cohen: "Well, I'll have to pay him something."
Donald Trump: "Don't pay with cash … check."
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 25, 2018
Giuliani said Cohen’s actions have damaged his credibility beyond repair, and he will likely be disbarred for violating attorney-client privilege.
“In order to cooperate with the government, you gotta have credibility.” Giuliani said. “The first thing that happens is, this guy [Cohen] is going to be disbarred. It’s ridiculous. He is a pariah to the legal profession.”
Twitter reacted by saying the “Trump Tapes” are a big nothing burger.
John Ziegler, an anti-Trump columnist for Mediaite, observed: “The more I listen to Trump Tapes the less impressed I am. You’ve DJT secretly recorded in person with his lawyer (which means he’s at his MOST open/vulnerable) and all U get is him MAYBE referring to paying “David” in cash, which there is no evidence ever happened?!”
The more I listen to #TrumpTapes the less impressed I am. You've DJT secretly recorded in person with his lawyer (which means he's at his MOST open/vulnerable) & all U get is him MAYBE referring to paying "David" in cash, which there is no evidence ever happened?! #NothingBurger
— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) July 25, 2018
Back to the drawing board for the Trump haters. Ya got nuthin.’
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