World News

Trump attacks Michael Cohen over 'Playboy model payment tape'

Trump attacks Michael Cohen over 'Playboy model payment tape'

President Donald Trump said Saturday that his personal lawyer's taping of their private phone conversations is "totally unheard of & perhaps illegal".

Donald Trump on Saturday said his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen may have acted illegally after it emerged he had secretly taped a discussion about payments to a former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with the United States president. He tweeted: "The good news is that your favourite President did nothing wrong!".

Lawyer Rudy Giuliani said no campaign funding was involved in the discussion between Trump and Cohen, who has distanced himself from Trump in recent months as the FBI investigates Cohen's business dealings.

This was a possible reference to an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on the office of Mr Cohen in April.

He said the recording was less than two minutes and demonstrated the president had done nothing wrong.

Trump did not mention Cohen by name but appeared to be responding to reports that Cohen recorded a conversation with him in September 2016 in which they discussed possible payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal - who claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

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The existence of the audio recording was first reported by the New York Times, which said Trump and Cohen discussed a potential payment to McDougal.

Mr Trump had previously denied all knowledge of the $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement.

Late on Sunday night NZ time, Trump took to Twitter, saying "that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) - nearly unheard of". Cohen has not been charged with a crime. The FBI investigation is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of election interference in 2016 and potential obstruction of justice by those in the president's orbit.

The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 that McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc. - the parent company to the National Enquirer - for the rights to the story, but it never ran. Trump's campaign had said it knew nothing about any payment to ex-centerfold Karen McDougal.

Payments made to cover up embarrassing information ahead of the election could violate campaign finance law.

The White House has said that Mr Trump denies having an affair with Ms McDougal and that he has denied having sex with Stormy Daniels.


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