By John Roberts, Adam Shaw, ,
Published July 21, 2018
Attorney Michael Cohen recorded a conversation with President Trump before the election in which they discussed possible payments to a former Playboy model who claimed she slept with Trump, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed to Fox News.
The source told Fox News that no payment was ever made.
The New York Times first reported that the FBI seized the recording during a raid earlier this year on Cohen’s office as part of an investigation into the former Trump lawyer's payments to women to shut down stories about his client leading up to the 2016 election -- a practice known as “catch-and-kill.”
Fox News has confirmed the details of the tape.
The conversation is said to involve a possible payment to Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, and took place two months before the election.
The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 that McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc. -- the parent company to the National Enquirer -- for the rights to the story, but it never ran. McDougal has sued AMI, alleging Cohen was secretly involved in those discussions. The lawsuit was settled in April.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Times that while there was a discussion, the payment was never made and the tape showed that Trump had done nothing wrong.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani told The Times. He also said that Trump told Cohen that any payment should be by check, not cash, so it could be documented properly.
“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” he said.
Part of the investigation into Cohen involves the $130,000 “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged one-time sexual encounter with Trump. Trump has denied any affair with either Daniels or McDougal.
Speculation has been widespread about what the investigation into Cohen could potentially provide for FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of collusion with the Trump campaign.
Earlier this month, Cohen distanced himself from the president, saying his family had his "first loyalty."
“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. “I put family and country first.”
"I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy," Cohen later said. "I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way."
Fox News' Brooke Singman and Judson Berger contributed to this report.