Donald Trump appeared familiar with a deal that a Playboy model made to sell the rights to her story of an alleged affair with him when Trump discussed the matter in 2016 with his attorney Michael Cohen, according to a transcript of their conversation, the Washington Post reports. The transcript, which was provided by President Trump’s legal team, shows that the then-GOP presidential nominee does not register surprise when Cohen refers to a plan to purchase the rights to model Karen McDougal’s story from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer. AMI, whose chief executive is David Pecker, had signed a $150,000 deal with McDougal in August 2016 for her story but never published it.
Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani disputed the idea that the recording shows that Trump knew about the McDougal deal. “It doesn’t,” he told the Post. “That’s open to interpretation, and we can have a fight about that.” The president’s legal team released the transcript after one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, provided CNN with the audio of the tape, marking a dramatic escalation of rhetoric and turn against Trump by the Cohen camp. The Cohen team was pushed to act by statements Giuliani had made about Cohen’s role in the conversation, Davis said. “It became necessary to rebut false statements,” he said. “We were not going to let Michael become a punching bag.” When asked whether the Cohen team would release more recordings of Trump in the coming weeks, Davis said, “There are a lot of other tapes.” The recordings were seized by FBI agents in April after they raided Cohen’s office and residences. Giuliani said he spoke to the president Tuesday night and said, “He’s disappointed his own lawyer recorded him.”