May 30, 2023
The evidence in the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal fraud case against former President Donald Trump includes a secretly made 2016 recording of Trump and a witness, thought to be Michael Cohen. This is the same audiotape that ABC News previously reported contained a discussion of a plan to buy the silence of Playboy model Karen McDougal prior to the 2016 election.
The recording is included in a document known as an Automatic Discovery Form that lists the kind of evidence Manhattan prosecutors have amassed during their multi-year investigation, in preparation for it to be turned over to Trump’s attorneys as they prepare his defense.
Trump last month pled not guilty to a 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in what prosecutors say was a “scheme” to boost his 2016 election chances by using hush money payments to suppress damaging information from two women who claimed to have had long-denied affairs with Trump.
Although the name of the witness was not disclosed in the Automatic Discovery Form that was made public on Friday, May 26, ABC News reported that the person was Cohen when it disclosed the secret recording in 2018.
Cohen, Trump’s then-personal attorney, told investigators that he worked with the publisher of the National Enquirer, longtime Trump ally David Pecker, to pay McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story that she’d had a ten-month affair with Trump from 2006 to 2007, so the Enquirer could suppress the story and keep it from going public.
On the recording obtained by ABC News, Trump and Cohen were heard discussing the payment.
“Don’t pay with cash … check,” Trump stated, according to a transcript released by Trump’s legal team after news of the recording was made public.
Trump’s attorneys said the recording showed that Trump wanted to pay via check in order to properly document the payment.
Trump has denied all charges against him. A judge has set a trial date of March 25, 2024, for the case.
Research contact: @ABC