Trump dodges questions about Cohen tapes

President Trump dodged multiple questions by reporters about secret audio recordings made by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.

Posted: Jul 26, 2018 12:35 PM
Updated: Jul 26, 2018 12:35 PM

With the release of Michael Cohen's secret recording of Donald Trump, a huge mucky rock was overturned. We can hear then-presidential candidate Trump saying "pay with cash," raising the question of whether he was referring to buying the silence of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, with whom he allegedly had an affair shortly after his wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son.

To be fair, the audio is muddled, so it's not clear exactly what Trump is talking about.

But in the recording, which Cohen's lawyer gave to CNN, when Trump raises the notion of using "cash," Cohen, his attorney, says, "No, no, no, no." Big cash payments signal shady business and Cohen, who was well adapted to Trump's environment of intrigue and deception, was obviously trying to save the boss from himself.

The word "cash" may reveal Trump's intent to keep secret a scheme that was designed to protect him from a shameful truth -- his betrayal of his wife -- and might also violate election laws that require every campaign-related expenditure be made public.

In response to the released recording, Trump's legal team disputed what was being said and released their own transcript of the tape. His legal team said Trump said "do not use cash...check."

Instead of debating about whether he meant "cash" or "check," the President and his team should be worried about the names of his confidants mentioned on the tape and whether they will also turn on him.

True to form, the President is also trying to change the subject, using Twitter to say, "What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things?..."

What would be the "positive things" Trump could say about the scheme? To presume that something reasonable was said is to ignore the fetid world of manipulation Trump created for himself and the nature of the people who inhabit it.

Trump was attended by a coterie of fixers and enablers who thrived by playing the roles he gave them, often in violation of the norms that others observe.

Beneath Cohen's overturned rock, we heard the name David. Given what we know about the National Enquirer's payment of $150,000 to McDougal, it is reasonable to believe this is American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, the tabloid's publisher. Pecker, who has said in court filings that the decision to buy and bury McDougal's story was his First Amendment Right, defiles the journalism profession.

Real journalists, who are devoted to giving the public every bit of reliable information they can deliver, do not pay for the rights to a story to keep it secret. Although he poses as a news publisher, Pecker's corrupt practices are intended to distort reality, not reveal it. A former AMI senior editor told The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow, "We never printed a word about Trump without his approval." The Wall Street Journal reported that Pecker has been subpoenaed to testify in a criminal probe of Cohen's payoff activities. AMI has not confirmed the report.

In the recording, Cohen also mentioned Allen Weisselberg. On the tape, Cohen said Weisselberg advised him on "how to set the whole thing up with funding." First employed by Trump's father, Fred Trump, Weisselberg has long served as chief financial officer of the entire Trump Organization. He is one of the few people who knows more about Trump's activities than Cohen. He even helped manage the Trump Foundation that is now under investigation by the New York attorney general. Weisselberg has not made a comment, but Alan Futerfas, a lawyer from the Trump Organization, told CNN, "I don't even know what Michael Cohen would have said to Allen Weisselberg because all Allen does is bookkeeping and process requests for transactions that are given to him."

Although he has long served one of the most controversial businessmen in America, Weisselberg had previously managed to avoid the light of publicity. However, the tape mentions his name in one of the murkiest episodes in Trump's life. Weisselberg could be of great interest to the New York federal prosecutors who are looking into Cohen's activities, and to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is trying to get to the bottom of Russia's interference with the 2016 election and Trump's relationships with various Russians.

But the critical muck-dweller in this scheme was, of course, Donald Trump himself. The allegation of the affair is entirely consistent with the man heard uttering the words "grab 'em by the pussy" in the infamous tape recorded by the "Access Hollywood" TV show, and who is the subject of sexual harassment claims made by more than a dozen women.

This is the same Trump who allegedly paid to keep secret an alleged sexual encounter with porn star Stormy Daniels.

Altogether, the swampy goings-on referenced in Cohen's recording suggest that people who helped Trump in the past -- Cohen, Pecker and Weisselberg, to name just three -- pose a danger to him now. They, too, could start overturning rocks, including those that hide the truth about Trump's finances.

The President, who relied on this cadre of fixers and enablers in the past, has a new one in his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is leading the counterattack. The former mayor of New York went on TV to tell us to ignore what we hear on the recording. Unfortunately for Trump, Giuliani is not a perfect fit in the role he now occupies. He can't help saying things like, "I've listened to lots of Mafia tapes. I've dealt with much worse tapes than this."

Sharing thoughts about organized crime as you address the problems of your client, who is President of the United States, doesn't help.

Surely Trump misses the good old days when he could turn to Michael Cohen to fix things for him. But Cohen has abandoned the slimy confines where he once dwelled and discovered he can function in the light. Trump should fear that others will be joining Cohen there.

Huntsville
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 65°
Florence
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 68°
Fayetteville
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 62°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Scottsboro
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19938351
Mobile13507293
Montgomery8866185
Tuscaloosa8837118
Madison798179
Shelby607449
Lee597161
Baldwin560650
Marshall397543
Calhoun355644
Etowah354845
Morgan333428
Houston293921
Elmore271948
DeKalb244321
St. Clair235936
Walker235485
Talladega217830
Limestone214420
Cullman191920
Dallas179826
Franklin179130
Autauga178727
Russell17683
Lauderdale175133
Colbert167726
Blount162115
Escambia161624
Jackson159712
Chilton159530
Covington140727
Dale140344
Coffee13716
Pike121611
Chambers117542
Tallapoosa117185
Clarke110316
Marion97529
Butler91740
Barbour8867
Winston75013
Marengo72620
Pickens67014
Randolph66613
Lowndes65927
Bibb65810
Hale64928
Geneva6444
Lawrence63425
Cherokee61713
Bullock60714
Clay5918
Monroe5908
Washington56012
Crenshaw54332
Perry5426
Conecuh53911
Wilcox53211
Henry5105
Macon48318
Fayette4689
Sumter43719
Cleburne3945
Lamar3822
Choctaw35112
Greene30515
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 194611

Reported Deaths: 2420
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31097466
Davidson26797311
Hamilton963495
Knox960579
Rutherford945290
Williamson536636
Sumner489598
Wilson356247
Putnam336541
Montgomery313344
Unassigned30444
Madison299265
Out of TN297727
Bradley297217
Sevier266415
Blount256324
Maury242725
Washington235538
Robertson223939
Sullivan223133
Hamblen194828
Tipton184519
Gibson172624
Trousdale16697
Hardeman158426
Wayne15015
Dyer142017
Bedford137317
Dickson128015
Coffee127713
Fayette122719
Cumberland121919
Weakley121620
Anderson121013
Obion120211
Loudon11996
Henderson119125
Carter118028
Greene116946
McMinn116325
Jefferson114414
Lawrence108913
Warren10777
Macon106721
Monroe106618
Hardin105516
Lauderdale100316
Haywood99821
Franklin99410
Lake9252
McNairy92518
Carroll91320
Roane9126
Bledsoe8624
White85510
Rhea85413
Hawkins82720
Cheatham8199
Marshall7815
Overton7706
Cocke75310
Smith74011
Johnson7323
Chester65011
Giles64417
Lincoln6331
Henry6309
Hickman6008
DeKalb57414
Marion5518
Fentress5463
Crockett54419
Decatur5347
Campbell4614
Claiborne4455
Polk40710
Grainger3943
Union3762
Benton3418
Jackson3325
Morgan3213
Grundy3176
Cannon2950
Unicoi2911
Humphreys2673
Sequatchie2441
Clay2355
Houston2343
Meigs2323
Stewart2212
Scott2192
Lewis2081
Moore1831
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1262
Hancock1073

Community Events