Trump attacks Michael Cohen over ‘Playboy model payment tape’

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Karen McDougal says she was tricked into staying silent about the alleged affair (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has condemned his former lawyer Michael Cohen amid US media reports that he secretly recorded Mr Trump discussing payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The tapes were reportedly discovered during an FBI raid on Mr Cohen’s property earlier this year in New York.

The New York Times reports that in the recording, Mr Trump and Mr Cohen discuss paying Ms McDougal, who says she had a 10-month affair with Mr Trump in 2006, a year after he married his current wife Melania.

The tape was reportedly made two months before the November 2016 election that saw Mr Trump become president.

In the lead-up to the vote, Ms McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer magazine, which is owned by a personal friend of Mr Trump.

She says a $150,000 (£115,000) agreement gave the tabloid exclusive story rights and banned her from talking publicly about the alleged affair. But the Enquirer did not publish her story after paying for the rights.

The Department of Justice is looking into alleged hush money paid to women who claim they had a relationship with Mr Trump.

It is suggested that such payments, if proved, would amount to an election expense.

Failing to declare election expenses is a crime.

Federal investigators have reportedly demanded the tabloid’s records on the McDougal payment.

Mr Trump had previously denied all knowledge of the $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement.

The New York Times reports that Mr Cohen, while working on behalf of Mr Trump, frequently taped conversations with journalists, other lawyers and business opponents of his client.

It goes on to say that Mr Trump himself also has a history of recording phone calls and conversations.

The ethics of whether lawyers should make such recordings, their legality notwithstanding, is an issue dividing the US legal profession. (Excerpts from BBC)

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