Erin Burnett: Tape shows Trump's team lied

CNN's Erin Burnett breaks down the news that President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen secretly recorded him discussing payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election.

Posted: Jul 22, 2018 7:41 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2018 7:54 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.

Cases: 601937

Reported Deaths: 9593
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion831111322
Lake44972678
Allen32498545
Hamilton29039315
St. Joseph27133380
Elkhart24291343
Vanderburgh19160246
Tippecanoe17799130
Johnson14871292
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Madison10851219
Vigo10636178
Clark10520137
Monroe9299110
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Warrick665197
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Bartholomew637999
Floyd6322109
Wayne6076161
Grant5937113
Dubois552578
Boone544967
Morgan530594
Henry503464
Marshall499884
Cass478663
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Noble468357
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Lawrence387478
Clinton370642
Gibson365559
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Washington182022
Starke174443
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Carroll155415
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Parke13018
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Blackford110522
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Switzerland6455
Union6227
Ohio4787
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 849704

Reported Deaths: 10518
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100046706
Cuyahoga845231068
Hamilton63092447
Montgomery42660405
Summit34405754
Lucas31041611
Butler30546229
Stark25443429
Warren19436140
Lorain18767223
Mahoning17163337
Lake15882153
Clermont15697110
Delaware1422678
Licking13067137
Trumbull12680313
Fairfield1262180
Greene11915136
Medina11439167
Clark10802265
Wood10230158
Allen9774126
Portage9163107
Miami907373
Richland9035117
Marion7420113
Tuscarawas7280179
Columbiana7263124
Pickaway719550
Wayne6954169
Muskingum690741
Erie6090127
Hancock547590
Ross543487
Scioto533664
Geauga501155
Darke465591
Ashtabula449373
Lawrence447053
Union444928
Sandusky433062
Mercer432088
Huron423541
Seneca423465
Auglaize419662
Shelby419421
Jefferson415469
Belmont411240
Washington383340
Athens37379
Putnam372674
Madison349929
Knox347922
Ashland342538
Fulton335243
Defiance327782
Crawford319472
Preble318437
Brown307121
Logan304132
Ottawa289243
Clinton286643
Williams275866
Highland271818
Jackson261345
Guernsey249825
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Fayette234429
Morrow23014
Perry228318
Holmes222864
Henry216849
Hardin210133
Coshocton203521
Van Wert200545
Gallia194726
Wyandot193851
Pike172417
Adams172015
Hocking169824
Carroll153216
Paulding143221
Noble119940
Meigs106823
Monroe100331
Harrison87821
Morgan82229
Vinton68913
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