Anderson Cooper: The spin has just begun

The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen in which the two men prior to the election discuss a payment to a former Playboy model who has alleged an affair with Trump, which the President previously denied knowing about.

Posted: Jul 22, 2018 6:00 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2018 6:02 PM

Michael Avenatti was right: The "#trumptapes" do exist. Michael Cohen, the man who once said he'd be willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump, has now provided perhaps the strongest evidence against him.

As first reported by New York Times, the FBI is now in possession of at least one recorded conversation between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump regarding payment to Karen McDougal, 1998 Playmate of the Year, and now the second-most-famous-alleged-Trump-mistress.

You may remember McDougal from her tearful and heartfelt interview with CNN in which she detailed the months long love affair she said she had with Trump in 2006. She was allegedly paid $150,000 by American Media, Inc. ("AMI") -- publisher of the tabloid magazine, The National Enquirer -- for the rights to her story, which was never published, a practice known as "catch and kill" in the media industry.

There's nothing criminal about the practice of catch and kill. But if it turns out that there were multiple payments to women for the purpose of aiding the Trump presidential campaign, which was formally launched on June 16, 2015, and those payments were not disclosed as campaign contributions, both the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice could potentially pursue claims against Trump and Cohen.

The parallels between this case and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards' payments to videographer Rielle Hunter, with whom he had a child, are hard to miss. The Edwards case fizzled, in part because prosecutors couldn't prove the requisite intent on the part of Edwards to secure a conviction. But this case may be different.

This recent bombshell is even more relevant when combined with what we already know about the hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels, which involved the now-infamously-bungled nondisclosure agreement between Daniels and Essential Consultants LLC, the Delaware limited liability company Cohen created which was used in both the $130,000 payment to Daniels and also implicated in the $1.6 million payment offer to a former Playboy model who allegedly had an affair with top Republican National Committee official Elliott Broidy (he has since resigned).

How many more women are involved in what now seems to be a coordinated pattern and practice on the part of Cohen and Trump to silence women for Trump's political gain?

Cohen, Donald Trump's longtime attorney and "fixer," secretly recorded a conversation he had with then-candidate Trump about the potential of an additional payment to McDougal, approximately two months prior to the election.

We've known for a while that Cohen had a propensity to tape his conversations.

But we didn't know he had recorded his conversations specifically with Trump. This begs the question: If Cohen recorded this conversation, what else was swept up in that now infamous raid by the FBI of his home, office and hotel room on April 9, 2018? CNN reported Friday that the FBI also seized tapes of Cohen speaking with other "powerful" individuals.

This, of course, is all playing out against the backdrop of the looming possibility of a criminal indictment against Cohen by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Cohen's recent off-camera interview with George Stephanopoulos is the strongest indication I've seen thus far in Cohen's ongoing legal saga that he will likely cooperate with federal prosecutors.

But even if he doesn't decide to "flip" on the President, the mere fact that he recorded conversations with his former boss may be both men's undoing, especially in the event a criminal case is brought. For any prosecutor, a key element of a criminal case is showing that someone violated the law and violated it knowingly. For the purposes of proving the latter, a tape-recorded conversation about a payment before it happens is some of the most damning information a prosecutor can wield.

We of course do not know what is on this tape or the others in possession of the FBI. But we know the FBI has them, and that should make Mr. Cohen and his former client very uneasy.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 56183

Reported Deaths: 2907
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10023420
Cuyahoga7571372
Hamilton5770197
Marion273038
Lucas2700302
Pickaway218841
Summit2110206
Montgomery193126
Mahoning1818231
Butler154744
Columbiana129560
Stark1091112
Lorain99767
Trumbull92565
Warren82321
Clark7659
Delaware55315
Belmont54422
Fairfield54316
Tuscarawas54110
Medina50832
Lake49218
Licking46612
Miami45531
Portage43258
Ashtabula43144
Wood41251
Geauga40042
Clermont3946
Wayne36051
Richland3325
Allen30840
Mercer2808
Greene2489
Darke24625
Erie23622
Holmes2263
Huron2112
Madison1938
Ottawa14323
Crawford1355
Washington13120
Putnam12715
Sandusky12714
Hardin12012
Ross1183
Morrow1161
Auglaize1064
Coshocton942
Monroe8817
Jefferson872
Union821
Muskingum811
Hancock781
Hocking788
Preble731
Williams692
Clinton680
Guernsey683
Lawrence680
Shelby654
Fulton610
Ashland581
Carroll583
Logan581
Wyandot586
Brown561
Defiance503
Athens491
Knox481
Fayette460
Highland441
Champaign391
Scioto380
Van Wert340
Seneca332
Perry321
Henry290
Adams231
Paulding230
Pike230
Jackson220
Vinton222
Gallia161
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 75°
Angola
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 71°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Heat Continues Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events