The Slatest

Trump Says Cohen Tape is “Perhaps Illegal,” Insists He “Did Nothing Wrong”

President Donald Trump waves as he steps out of Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey, on July 20, 2018.
President Donald Trump waves as he steps out of Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey, on July 20, 2018.
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

President Donald Trump broke his silence on news that his former lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen recorder a conversation the two had about paying off a former Playboy model. In a tweet, he said that the recording, which was reportedly made two months before the presidential election, was “perhaps illegal.” Regardless, he confidently said he “did nothing wrong.”

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning)—almost unheard of,” Trump tweeted in reference to an FBI raid into Cohen’s office in April. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.
The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has confirmed that the conversation took place but insists there was no campaign money involved in the discussion over payments to Karen McDougal. The conversation, Giuliani insists, was all about reimbursing the parent company of the National Enquirer* for the rights to McDougal’s story. Giuiliani says the payment was never made and he continues to deny Trump and McDougal ever had an affair.

Despite all the denials, the conversation at the very least seems to demonstrate the Trump campaign lied when it said it didn’t know anything about the way the National Enquirer paid McDougal for her story. Yet Giuliani says that isn’t true, insisting the recording “helps us, rather than hurts us” and “bears out the fact” that Trump only found out about the payment for McDougal when Cohen told him about it.

Beyond the specifics, Trump’s tweet amounts to “his most pointed criticism yet” of Cohen, notes the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times also emphasizes that the tweet signals “open warfare on Mr. Cohen.” New York law allows one party in a conversation to record without the other person knowing.

*Correction, July 21, 2018: This post originally misspelled the name of the National Enquirer.