Here's What You Need To Know About The Cohen-Trump Porn Payoff Tape

On Tuesday night, CNN released a tape obtained from the attorney for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen – a tape of Cohen talking candidly with Trump about paying off a former porn star, Karen McDougal, to keep quiet about their affair. More specifically, the deal was to be arranged thusly: American Media head David Pecker, who owns the National Enquirer, reportedly obtained the rights to McDougal’s story; Cohen would then pay Pecker to convey those rights to Trump.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen told Trump. “What financing?” Trump asks. “We’ll have to pay,” Cohen says. The audio is muffled, but Trump seems to be asking Cohen to pay with cash rather than a check – although Team Trump disputes this interpretation, and says Trump wanted Cohen to pay by check.

Why is any of this particularly relevant? According to lawyer Alan Dershowitz, it isn’t.

The opposing theory suggests that by setting up a secret LLC in order to avoid reporting to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump could have violated campaign finance laws. Former presidential candidate John Edwards was caught in a similar pickle, but his prosecution ended up coming to nothing.

With all of this said, Trump’s biggest problem is that Cohen appears to have flipped on him. If he has other tapes that are more damaging, Trump has trouble. It’s not illegal for Cohen to tape Trump – New York is, shockingly, a one-party consent state when it comes to taping. Trump’s evident shock at being taped notwithstanding, Cohen’s taping was thus legal:

Trump isn’t wrong, however, that we’ll need to hear more of the tape, plus testimony under oath, to know whether the law was broken. Suffice it to say that all of this information was already assumed by most American voters, so the fallout will be minimal aside from the possibility of actual criminal prosecution.

 
 
 

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