BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Donald Trump said on Saturday that he finds it "unimaginable" that a lawyer would accept a client, as the president had weighed in after the revelation that his then lawyer was secretly discussing an issue in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election possible payment for a previous affair of a Playboy model with an affair with Trump.
The recording was part of a large collection of documents and electronic records seized earlier this year by federal authorities by Michael Cohen, the long-time Trump fixer.
In a tweet Trump called such taping "completely unknown and perhaps illegal". He also claimed to formulate it without elaborating it: "The good news is that your favorite president did not do anything wrong!"
Cohen had been training to record conversations without communicating with those he spoke to. Most states, including New York, allow recordings of conversations with the consent of one party only; Other states require all parties to agree to a record or have mixed laws on this matter. It was not immediately clear where Trump and Cohen were at the time of the call.
Cohen's recording adds questions about whether Trump tried to destroy harmful stories before the election. The Trump campaign had said that it knew nothing about a payment to make Karen McDougal eccentric.
Transparency Groups and Democrats have argued that the secret efforts to silence Trump prosecutors, including a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission as possible violations of election campaign finance laws that require disclosure of campaign spending. Trump's lawyers argued that all payments had been made to prosecutors regardless of his presidential candidacy and that no violation had taken place.
The record could further implicate the president in a criminal investigation that Cohen has been targeting for months.
The former Trump loyalist has hired a new lawyer, Clinton White House veteran Lanny Davis, and distanced himself from the president, as both continue to be investigated. Cohen was not charged with a crime.
Current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the payment was never made and the short record shows that Trump did nothing wrong.
"The transaction that Michael talks about on the tape has never happened, but what's important is that if it happened, the president said it had to be done right and it had to be done by check," it said Giuliani.
Davis said, "Every turn attempt can not change what's on the tape."
"If the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen," Davis said in a statement.
The recording was first reported on Friday by The New York Times.
The FBI raided Cohen's office, home, and hotel rooms in April, seeking in part for information about payments to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, who received a $ 130,000 payment from Cohen before the election, to remain silent about a sexual relationship. Investigations by the FBI are different from the investigation of the Special Advisory Service Robert Mueller on election interventions in 2016 and the possible obstruction of justice by the incumbents.
With regard to this raid, Trump called it "unimaginable that the government would break into a law firm (early in the morning) – almost unheard of – even more inconceivable that a lawyer would accept a client." In earlier comments, Trump also ordered the court order Confiscation was called a "break-in," although Cohen was more optimistic and said the FBI agents were polite and respectful.
A self-described fixer for Trump for more than a decade, Cohen said last year he would "take a bullet" for Trump. But he told ABC News in an interview this month that he is now putting "family and country first" and has nobody paint him as the "villain of this story". On Twitter, he scrubbed mentions and photos of Trump from a profile that previously identified him as "Personal Advocate of President Donald J. Trump."
Associated Press authors Eric Tucker of Washington, Jennifer Peltz and Jake Pearson of New York, and Michael Balsamo of Los Angeles contributed to the report.
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