MANHATTAN (CN) – The morning after a judge sliced through Michael Cohen’s claims of attorney-client privilege, the New York Times reported Friday that President Donald Trump’s self-styled “fixer” secretly recorded his boss discussing payments to a Playboy model.
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed the report about the recording between Cohen and his client discussing Karen McDougal, who accused Trump of silencing an affair she said they had shortly after Melania Trump gave birth to their son Barron in 2006.
McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer for $150,000 toward the end of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but the tabloid never ran it, in a practice described as “catch and kill.”
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, told the Times.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” he added.
The revelations fall shortly after Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization failed to suppress more than a third of the FBI-seized files that they fought to designate as privileged.
Of the nearly 4 million files seized from Cohen’s properties in April, only 4,085 items were claimed to be privileged. Retired federal judge Barbara Jones, the special master overseeing privilege issues, determined Thursday that 1,452 of those items do not qualify for those designations.
Cohen disputed 22 of those determinations, but he chose not to challenge any of them.
In recently weeks, Cohen increasingly has distanced himself from Trump in interviews that he and his associates have granted with the press, prompting speculation that he will cooperate with federal prosecutors.