President Donald Trump claimed on Saturday that he "did nothing wrong" after reports surfaced that Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, secretly recorded him shortly before the 2016 presidential election talking about buying the rights to the story of a former Playboy model who alleges she had an affair with Trump.
NY is a "one-party consent" state, meaning that in general, it is legal to record a conversation as long as at least one party agrees, even if that person is the one doing the recording.
It is a potential problem for Mr Trump because undisclosed payments to bury embarrassing stories about a political candidate can be treated as a violation of U.S. campaign finance laws.
The tabloid ultimately sat on it, preventing it from becoming public.
The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen's office. Cohen flipping could pose significant political, and possibly legal, problems for the president, given the lawyer's deep knowledge of his personal and business matters. It is unclear why Team Trump would waive its privilege on the recordings.
After The New York Times first revealed the existence of the tape - and Giuliani claimed the tape was exculpatory evidence that did no harm to Trump -- his legal team chose to remove any protection relating to the attorney-client relationship on this specific matter.
There are many reasons (e.g., knowledge of Trump's finances, awareness of Trump's Russian Federation connections) Trump has been freaked out by the search of Cohen's office, hotel and home. "Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance". Lawyers and those familiar with the recordings told the newspaper that Cohen had secretly taped a conversation with the president two months before the 2016 election.
Ms McDougal says she had a 10-month affair with Mr Trump in 2006, a year after he married his current wife Melania.
In the conversation, Cohen and Trump discussed purchasing the rights to McDougal's story from American Media Inc., since the company, which publishes the National Enquirer, had already bought the rights to her story, according to sources familiar with the audio recording.
Acting as special master in the Cohen case, Barbara Jones has already released over 2 million items seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecutors.
Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.
Trump added that there is no reason that makes him believe that Russian Federation interfered. "A lot of people out there". With that, Trump declared the contretemps over, insisting, "I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself".
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In August 2016, AMI paid McDougal $150,000 for the right to her story but never published an article based on her account. But he said no money was actually ever transferred, and the recording itself amounted to "powerful exculpatory evidence".
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