Trump blasts Cohen over tape disclosure

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On Tuesday night, CNN aired a recording of Trump and Cohen discussing a hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with the president. "So sad!. Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things?" Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.

The recorded conversation between Trump and Cohen came weeks after the National Enquirer's parent company reached a $US150,000 ($202,000) deal to pay former Playboy model Karen McDougal for her story of a 2006 affair, which it never published, a tabloid practice known as catch and kill.

Cohen, who no longer works for the U.S. president, is under federal investigation in NY for his business dealings and reportedly whether hush payments violated campaign finance laws.

Trump responded to the tapes by saying Cohen taping him was "totally unheard of & perhaps illegal", though in NY only one party needs to consent to taping. That was shortly after now First Lady Melania gave birth to their son, Barron.

In the conversation, recorded in September 2016 at Trump Tower in New York, Cohen discusses setting up a company to make a payment apparently involving David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc (AMI) and a close friend of Trump's.

At the very least, the tape suggests Mr Trump was aware that discussions were taking place to buy the rights to Ms McDougal's story. Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, released the recording to CNN Tuesday night in what is seen as an open hostility between Trump and Cohen.

But what's new and especially threatening to Trump's presidency is Cohen's material, of which there seems to be plenty. But it would be a harder case to make if the payment was seen as merely created to protect Trump, who is married, from embarrassment in his personal or private life. "The vast majority of the media is reporting this as if Trump said "Pay in cash" because it sounds more guilty if that's what he said".

More news: The Story Behind TIME's Trump and Putin 'Summit Crisis' Cover

"MediaBuzz" host Howard Kurtz weighs in on the Michael Cohen tape fueling a debate about Trump, cash and credibility. The president denies the affair.

Davis said the tape is among audio recordings that were seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a raid of Cohen's home and office in April.

No payment was ever made from Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the President's attorney, has said.

Mr Trump's current lawyer, Mr Rudy Giuliani, said he got an audio expert to enhance the recording, the Associated Press reported. Though Trump can be heard using the word "cash", the meaning behind the word's use is still a matter of dispute on both sides.

Trump was outraged at the raid on Cohen in April, declaring on Twitter that "attorney client privilege is dead" on Twitter and calling the search "an attack on our country".

Not long after suggesting he'd consider representing Michael Cohen (despite all of the obvious conflicts that could prevent such a thing), Michael Avenatti is demanding that Cohen show once and for all that he's serious about "doing the right thing".

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