Donald Trump heard in lawyer’s secret recording discussing potential payment for a Playboy model’s story

A secretly recorded tape of Donald Trump discussing a hush-money payment to a Playboy model over an alleged affair has led to a public row between the US president and his former lawyer.

The audio, released to US media by representatives for Michael Cohen, confirms Mr Trump discussed buying the rights to the story two months before the 2016 election.

Mr Trump hit out at Mr Cohen for surreptitiously recording their conversation, writing on Twitter: “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client?”

He also claimed the tape had been “cut” while he was “saying positive things”.

It reopens questions over whether the payment constitutes an undeclared election campaign expense.

Karen McDougal with Donald Trump in pictures she posted in September 2015 on Twitter. The post has now been removedCredit:

Mr Trump’s self-described "fixer" has previously said he would take a bullet for the president but their relationship has soured in recent weeks, with Mr Cohen saying his first loyalty was to his family and country.

The public split comes as Mr Cohen faces an FBI investigation and will fuel suggestions the lawyer could “flip” and provide information to investigators in exchange for leniency.

The recording was surreptitiously made by Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael CohenCredit:

The audio recordings were seized in an FBI raid on Mr Cohen’s office and home in April.

In the tapes, Mr Trump and Mr Cohen can be heard discussing a potential payment for a Playboy model’s story about an alleged affair and whether to “pay with cash”.

The audio is muffled and both sides dispute whether Mr Trump is suggesting a cash payment or advising against it.

Mr Cohen can be heard saying that he needed to start a company "for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David".

Weeks earlier, the National Enquirer had agreed to pay $150,000 (£114,000) to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, for the rights to her story of a 10-month “affair” with Mr Trump in 2006. The story was never published, a tabloid practice known as ‘catch and kill’.

Karen McDougal with Donald Trump in pictures she posted in September 2015 on Twitter. The post has now been removedCredit:

David Pecker, the president of American Media Inc (AMI), the National Enquirer’s parent company, is a friend of Mr Trump.

Mr Trump and Mr Cohen appear to be discussing buying the rights to Ms McDougal’s story from AMI, referring to “our friend David”.

Mr Trump denies the affair ever happened and his campaign has previously stated he knew nothing about the payment.

Mr Trump’s current attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said he has had an expert enhance the recording and the president says "don’t pay with cash".

Rudy Giuliani said Donald Trump says "don't pay with cash" in the tapeCredit:

"The president wanted to do it the right way. If you wanted to hide something, you would not do it by corporation or check," he said.

Lanny Davis, Mr Cohen’s legal representative, released the recordings to CNN, saying his client "has been disparaged and insulted and called all kinds of things."

"He’s got truth on his side and he’ll continue to tell the truth," he said.

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