The Karen McDougal Tape
This post has been updated.
Yesterday was another bombshell in this ongoing real-life drama of House of Cards. Only with Trump’s presidency can jury selection in the trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager, be put on the back burner, if not ignored completely.
The Cohen-Trump Tape
We now know that President Trump knew that his friend David Pecker of American Media, a.k.a. The National Enquirer, was buying the rights to the story of Karen McDougal, the former playboy model that alleges to have had a lengthy affair with Trump. We also know Trump was caught in another lie regarding payoffs, the first one being with Stormy Daniels.
The recording was provided by Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis to CNN. The recording is clear that it is in reference to McDougal. What is not clear is whether President Trump said to pay in cash or not, but in reality, that’s not relevant, unless we find out that Michael Cohen has also been involved in cash payments to others.
While everyone is focusing on whether it is legal or illegal for Cohen to record Trump, and whether the payment was to be made in cash or not, here is my question- why?
Why did Cohen as Trump’s personal attorney record him? We can all agree this isn’t normal in the legal profession by any stretch of the imagination. I can only think of two reasons why an attorney would record a conversation with a client, barring an F.B.I. wire that I don’t believe happened here.
The first reason is that Cohen knew this would come back to haunt him and he wanted to make sure that the story was set straight. It’s odd to say the least that someone would dig their own grave for their funeral, but it is within the realm of possibility.
After so many years of loyalty to Trump, the waters of attorney-client relationships can be muddied and in Cohen’s own words, he did say he would take a bullet for President Trump.
The second reason I can think of is blackmail.
It has been long reported that Cohen wanted and expected a job within the White House, but that offer was never extended to him by the president. Is it possible that Cohen started recording his conversations with Trump in order to turn around later and say I will leak these recordings if I don’t get this job?
Trump’s response can’t be it’s privileged information, so he’s protected, because there are exceptions to attorney-client privilege and the crime fraud exception is one of them.
Granted, Cohen would be cutting off his nose to spite his face, and while it is a gamble, it’s a calculated gamble that could have paid off because both parties would lose. Think about it: I won’t go down alone because I will take you with me, or, we protect each other and give each other what we want.
I find it inconceivable that Trump didn’t know about the tapes well in advance. Hell, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti has been talking about it for months. And if you think about it, Trump’s administration has been on a discrediting campaign against Cohen. Even Lanny Davis mentioned that on his interview on “Cuomo Prime Time” last night where he said “this is about honesty versus false disparagement of Michael Cohen. Why is Giuliani out falsely disparaging Michael Cohen — because they fear him.”
What’s on the other eleven tapes? Was this the most damning recording or are we still eleven tapes away from the grand finale? Time will tell. Meanwhile, Trump has a personal and political nightmare on his hands with these recordings.
Campaign Finance Violations
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani had already admitted to the recordings, but said there was no evidence of a crime, but that’s what any lawyer representing their client would say.
Below is a snippet of the federal law regarding Campaign Finance Crimes.
While it seems Trump was not involved in any payment to Karen McDougal, we don’t know at this point if there were communications between Cohen and David Pecker from the National Enquirer to buy the story, resulting in “indirectly” receiving the benefit which is a violation and crime.
Maybe the remaining recordings or emails reveal that information, or that is something Cohen will confirm later if he cooperates with Mueller because at this point, it is obvious Cohen is one step closer to cooperating with the Robert Mueller investigation. Cohen arguably was telegraphing his next move when he dropped the hint in his interview with George Stephanopoulos, when he said that family comes first.
There also exists that possibility of federal and state statutes that deal with conspiracy as seen below. Within the next couple of days, no doubt attorneys that are experts on campaign fraud will weigh on this legal issue.