UPDATE — Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Thursday at an event in California he has three more clients who were paid-off prior to the 2016 election to keep quiet about alleged affairs with Donald Trump.
Avenatti called on both Trump and Michael Cohen to release relevant information regarding all three women, but Cohen’s lawyer Friday suggested Daniels’ attorney may be bluffing.
“Mr. Avenatti is an aggressive attorney doing his job in the middle of litigation,” said attorney Lanny Davis.
Federal prosecutors have obtained 12 audio recordings belonging to former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen, including confidential communications between the New York-based lawyer and his ex-client.
One of the tapes, which dates back to September 2016, features Trump and Cohen discussing finances. Trump apparently did not know he was being recorded by Cohen.
At one point, Trump can be heard referring to a possible hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
McDougal alleged having a 10-month affair with Trump over a decade ago between 2006 and 2007 when Trump’s wife Melania was pregnant.
“Pay with cash,” Trump says to Cohen in the recording.
Trump’s current attorney, Rudy Giuliani contests that his client actually said, “Don’t pay with cash.”
Although the rest of the contents of the recording are muddled, the audio’s transcript directly contradicts the Trump campaign’s previous claim the New York businessman was unaware of payments made to McDougal.
Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
“There’s no indication of any crime being committed on this tape,” his lawyer said on Fox News Tuesday night.
Trump and Cohen were considering buying the rights to McDougal’s story to stop her from making her affair with the current president public. In August 2016, American Media Inc., publisher of The National Enquirer, paid McDougal $150,000 for her story but it was never published.
While Trump did not directly attack Cohen in his tweets, he did question his actions:
What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things? I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped – can this be so? Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018
The recordings were amongst the files seized by the FBI in the raid of Cohen’s office on April 9. The FBI also raided Cohen’s former home and hotel room as part of a federal investigation into Cohen’s personal finance dealings.
According to legal analysts, if Cohen testifies payments authorized by Trump made to McDougal or Stormy Daniels were to influence the 2016 election, the president may be prosecuted for felony violations of federal campaign law.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
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