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'Yikes': NYT Reports Personal Attorney Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Talk With Trump About Playboy Model Payoff

Revelations, according to NYT, "highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump"

Michael Cohen, (L) former personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York on May 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, the New York Times reported on Friday, secretly recorded a conversation with the president just weeks before the 2016 election about a payoff to Playboy model Karen McDougal regarding her allegations that she and Trump had an extramarital affair years prior.

The Times reports:

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

According to Matt Apuzzo, one the Times journalists who broke the story who spoke to MSNBC after it was published, their reporting found "no indication" that Trump knew this conversation was being recording. That, of course, only leads to further speculation about how many other times—and on what subjects—Cohen may have been making such recordings.

"The recording's existence further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret," the Times reports. "And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump’s secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors."

Michael Avenatti, the outspoken lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels, also embroiled with Trump over payoffs related to a sexual relationship, said in the wake of the new revelations that he knows "for a fact" that there are more recordings made by Cohen and seized by the FBI.

As Common Cause immediately pointed out, Trump's direct knowledge and involvement in a possible payoff during the 2016 could be evidence of serious campaign finance violations by the president:

Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, had this one word response: "Yikes."

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