Trump Signals Consequences for Michael Cohen Over Secret Recording

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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. — President Trump lashed out at his longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Saturday, suggesting that there might be authorized penalties for Mr. Cohen’s choice to file a dialogue they’d two months earlier than the 2016 election about paying a former Playboy mannequin who mentioned she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) — almost unheard of,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

With his tweet, Mr. Trump signaled open warfare on Mr. Cohen, a longtime fixer he had till now tried to maintain by his aspect because the Justice Department investigates Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying ladies to quash doubtlessly damaging information protection about Mr. Trump in the course of the marketing campaign.

Early this month, Mr. Cohen recommended that he was trying significantly at cooperating with prosecutors, telling ABC News that “I put family and country first.” Mr. Trump’s advisers have considered the Cohen investigation as presumably a larger danger to the president than the particular counsel inquiry into his marketing campaign’s ties to Russia, given Mr. Cohen’s onetime standing because the keeper of Mr. Trump’s private and enterprise secrets and techniques.

In going after his longtime affiliate, Mr. Trump, who left Washington on Friday to spend the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, added one other chaotic twist to a head-spinning week that started with a broadly condemned information convention with Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, in Helsinki, Finland.

The president’s aides, who spent the primary a part of the week frantically making an attempt to determine learn how to clear up the aftermath of the information convention, have had little to say about accusations by ladies that Mr. Trump’s legal professionals had paid them for their silence within the wake of extramarital affairs.

The White House didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Saturday. But previously, the president’s aides have called the account of the affair by the previous mannequin, Karen McDougal, “an old story that is just more fake news,” and have denied that the president was concerned.

The recording is bound to boost new questions on what the president knew concerning the funds and when.

Ms. McDougal says she started an almost yearlong affair with Mr. Trump in 2006, shortly after Mr. Trump’s spouse, Melania, gave beginning to their son Barron.

Ms. McDougal bought her story for $150,000 to The National Enquirer, which was supportive of Mr. Trump, in the course of the ultimate months of the presidential marketing campaign. But the tabloid sat on the story, which stored it from turning into public. The observe, generally known as “catch and kill,” successfully silenced Ms. McDougal for the rest of the marketing campaign.

On the recording, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have been discussing what would basically have been a reimbursement to American Media Inc., or A.M.I., the father or mother firm of The Enquirer, whose chairman, David J. Pecker, is pleasant with the president. The recording was discovered throughout an F.B.I. raid on Mr. Cohen’s workplace this yr.

When The Wall Street Journal reported on A.M.I.’s payments to Ms. McDougal days earlier than the election, the Trump marketing campaign denied realizing about them. “We have no knowledge of any of this,” Hope Hicks, the marketing campaign spokeswoman, mentioned on the time, including that Ms. McDougal’s declare of an affair was “totally untrue.”

On his technique to his golf membership in Bedminster, the president ignored a number of questions from reporters about why his marketing campaign would have denied data of the funds if he was on tape discussing them with Mr. Cohen.

Hours later, the president was on Twitter, suggesting that what Mr. Cohen had achieved was unlawful.

New York regulation permits one occasion to a dialog to tape it with out the opposite realizing. Over the years, Mr. Cohen, in his dealings on Mr. Trump’s behalf with journalists, opposing legal professionals and enterprise adversaries, regularly taped his conversations, unbeknown to the individuals with whom he was talking. Mr. Trump himself additionally has a historical past of recording telephone calls and conversations.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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