A no-longer-secret tape of President Trump’s discussing a hush payment to bury a former Playboy model’s story of their alleged affair is about “lies and truth,” the attorney for Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said.
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Lanny Davis spoke out on “Good Morning America” Wednesday, telling ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos that Trump and his advisers have been concocting stories about what was said by whom on the tape that Cohen surreptitiously recorded in September 2016 before Trump was elected president.
On the tape, Cohen informs then-candidate Trump about a plan Cohen allegedly devised to try to purchase the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story from American Media Inc., which owns the National Enquirer. McDougal has said she had an affair with Trump, who has been married to first lady Melania Trump since 2005, in 2006, which Trump has repeatedly denied.
Davis told Stephanopoulos the tape shows that Trump is the one who raised the idea of paying “cash” to American Media to keep McDougal’s story under wraps. But Trump’s attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has countered with an alleged transcript of the tape in which Trump tells Cohen “Don’t pay with cash … check.”
The tape, released Tuesday night, was first aired on CNN. ABC News has obtained a copy of the recording, with is garbled in some portions.
“It’s about lies and truth,” Davis said. “Giuliani can’t make up the words, ‘don’t pay.’ I say to everybody who voted for Donald Trump, don’t believe me. I’m a Democrat. Listen to the tape. The words ‘don’t pay’ are not heard.”
Trump took to Twitter Wednesday morning to express outrage over Cohen’s recording him in the first place. “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad!” Trump wrote, blasting his former longtime fixer but not addressing the substance of what was said on the tape.
The president also questioned the abrupt ending of the recording, suggesting the tape was cut off before the president started talking about positive things.
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
Cohen’s plan to pay American Media $150,000 for McDougal’s story was never consummated and Davis conceded that Trump and Cohen did nothing illegal by discussing the payment.
But Davis contended it clearly shows Trump was aware of Cohen’s plan to keep McDougal’s story from the public despite his campaign press secretary’s denying Trump knew anything about it two months after the conversation.
He also said the tape is evidence of a pattern of lies the president has told before and after occupying the White House.
“We know that Trump used the word ‘cash’ and people who use cash, [as] Rudy Giuliani knows when he’s U.S. attorney, are either drug dealers or mobsters,” Davis said.
He said he and Cohen decided to release the tape to combat “an intense campaign of disparagement and lies and smears against Michael Cohen from the Trump camp, primarily by Mayor Giuliani.”
“I will say that Michael Cohen has turned a corner in his life and he’s now dedicated to telling the truth to everyone and we’ll see what happens,” Davis said.