Trump says 'inconceivable' that Cohen recorded conversation about ex-Playmate payment

Donald Trump on Saturday said his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen may have acted illegally after it emerged he had secretly taped a discussion about payments to a former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with the U.S. president.

The Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation had seized the recording during a raid on Cohen's office earlier this year, quoting lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

"Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) - nearly unheard of", Trump tweeted, in an apparent reference to an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on Cohen in April.

He added that a lawyer secretly recording a client was "totally unheard of and perhaps illegal".

In the September 2016 conversation, Cohen and Trump were discussing a plan by Cohen to attempt to purchase the rights to McDougal's story from AMI for roughly $150,000, according to one person familiar with recording.

According to the Times, in the tape, Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen discuss payments to Karen McDougal.

In August 2016, AMI paid McDougal $150,000 for the right to her story but never published an article based on her account.

As part of their probe, investigators have sought documents related to Cohen's interactions with AMI, as well as to an October 2016 hush-money payment he arranged with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who also claimed to have had a sexual encounter with Trump.

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The New Yorker magazine reported in February that Trump had an affair with McDougal at the same time he had a relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels and that the National Enquirer prevented McDougal's story being made public.

The erstwhile Trump loyalist has hired a new attorney, Clinton White House veteran Lanny Davis, and disassociated himself from the president as both remain under investigation. "Any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape".

Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed to The Times that Trump discussed payments to McDougal with Cohen, but he said that ultimately no payment was made. But the Enquirer did not publish her kiss-and-tell, and she says she was tricked. The Trump administration had previously denied knowing anything about such a payment.

"I think we need to bring this in-house", Cohen tells Trump, according to one person with knowledge of the recording. "In the big scheme of things, it's powerful exculpatory evidence".

A source familiar with the tape said Cohen recommends buying the rights to the story, and Trump asks questions about how they would go about doing that.

In May, President Trump admitted that he had reimbursed Mr Cohen for a payment he made to another woman to hush up her claims of an affair.

McDougal, 47, alleges that she had a 10-month romantic affair with Trump in 2006.

Giuliani said the proposed payment was a personal matter and not subject to campaign finance law.

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