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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 4:46 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2018 5:02 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35419

Reported Deaths: 1230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds290851
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Simpson3933
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Newton37510
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George1163
Greene11310
Amite1103
Alcorn1002
Quitman991
Wilkinson989
Tishomingo971
Perry874
Choctaw754
Stone742
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton460
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
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Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
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Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
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Choctaw21212
Greene1959
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Washington1418
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