Anderson Cooper: The spin has just begun

The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen in which the two men prior to the election discuss a payment to a former Playboy model who has alleged an affair with Trump, which the President previously denied knowing about.

Posted: Jul 22, 2018 5:44 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2018 6:02 PM

Michael Avenatti was right: The "#trumptapes" do exist. Michael Cohen, the man who once said he'd be willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump, has now provided perhaps the strongest evidence against him.

As first reported by New York Times, the FBI is now in possession of at least one recorded conversation between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump regarding payment to Karen McDougal, 1998 Playmate of the Year, and now the second-most-famous-alleged-Trump-mistress.

You may remember McDougal from her tearful and heartfelt interview with CNN in which she detailed the months long love affair she said she had with Trump in 2006. She was allegedly paid $150,000 by American Media, Inc. ("AMI") -- publisher of the tabloid magazine, The National Enquirer -- for the rights to her story, which was never published, a practice known as "catch and kill" in the media industry.

There's nothing criminal about the practice of catch and kill. But if it turns out that there were multiple payments to women for the purpose of aiding the Trump presidential campaign, which was formally launched on June 16, 2015, and those payments were not disclosed as campaign contributions, both the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice could potentially pursue claims against Trump and Cohen.

The parallels between this case and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards' payments to videographer Rielle Hunter, with whom he had a child, are hard to miss. The Edwards case fizzled, in part because prosecutors couldn't prove the requisite intent on the part of Edwards to secure a conviction. But this case may be different.

This recent bombshell is even more relevant when combined with what we already know about the hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels, which involved the now-infamously-bungled nondisclosure agreement between Daniels and Essential Consultants LLC, the Delaware limited liability company Cohen created which was used in both the $130,000 payment to Daniels and also implicated in the $1.6 million payment offer to a former Playboy model who allegedly had an affair with top Republican National Committee official Elliott Broidy (he has since resigned).

How many more women are involved in what now seems to be a coordinated pattern and practice on the part of Cohen and Trump to silence women for Trump's political gain?

Cohen, Donald Trump's longtime attorney and "fixer," secretly recorded a conversation he had with then-candidate Trump about the potential of an additional payment to McDougal, approximately two months prior to the election.

We've known for a while that Cohen had a propensity to tape his conversations.

But we didn't know he had recorded his conversations specifically with Trump. This begs the question: If Cohen recorded this conversation, what else was swept up in that now infamous raid by the FBI of his home, office and hotel room on April 9, 2018? CNN reported Friday that the FBI also seized tapes of Cohen speaking with other "powerful" individuals.

This, of course, is all playing out against the backdrop of the looming possibility of a criminal indictment against Cohen by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Cohen's recent off-camera interview with George Stephanopoulos is the strongest indication I've seen thus far in Cohen's ongoing legal saga that he will likely cooperate with federal prosecutors.

But even if he doesn't decide to "flip" on the President, the mere fact that he recorded conversations with his former boss may be both men's undoing, especially in the event a criminal case is brought. For any prosecutor, a key element of a criminal case is showing that someone violated the law and violated it knowingly. For the purposes of proving the latter, a tape-recorded conversation about a payment before it happens is some of the most damning information a prosecutor can wield.

We of course do not know what is on this tape or the others in possession of the FBI. But we know the FBI has them, and that should make Mr. Cohen and his former client very uneasy.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2715335

Reported Deaths: 57428
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings34831910956
Queens32527210405
Suffolk2543343681
Nassau2251823328
Bronx2127096803
New York1763044661
Westchester1478212356
Erie1238012040
Monroe969811248
Richmond922471967
Orange61914944
Onondaga59057816
Rockland55357783
Dutchess37798508
Albany34221411
Oneida32950637
Niagara28469418
Broome28056432
Saratoga24400224
Schenectady19229244
Ulster18957290
Rensselaer17260192
Chautauqua14837191
Oswego14047133
Putnam13091101
Chemung12740174
St. Lawrence12724143
Steuben12372189
Ontario11592119
Jefferson11237105
Wayne10115102
Cattaraugus9898156
Cayuga9653113
Sullivan950090
Genesee8556144
Herkimer8228143
Clinton801747
Fulton7768110
Tompkins735961
Madison7285108
Warren721996
Livingston713276
Montgomery7110162
Washington660678
Tioga629773
Cortland605389
Allegany5929120
Columbia5664113
Chenango550895
Orleans543496
Franklin536526
Otsego532162
Wyoming525265
Greene491189
Delaware434451
Lewis416940
Seneca320067
Essex296437
Schoharie265424
Yates197433
Schuyler191920
Hamilton5113
Unassigned1422
Out of NY0338
Utica
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 25°
Oneonta
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 17°
Herkimer
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 25°
Old Forge
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 25°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
2022 WKTV Golf Card only $99.99
Game Day Deals - New Deals Each Week
Stuff the Bus Locations
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve