By Alisha Haridasani
When he released the tapes of President Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, Cohen’s lawyer not only caused a media firestorm, but he may have also pulled back the curtain on Trump's systematic tactics to quiet women from his past.
“These were two guys talking the same way you and I might talk about what to order off the Chinese menu,” said Republican political strategist Rick Wilson on Cheddar Wednesday. "I think what this speaks to is something that Americans should really focus onーthat Donald Trump had a system in place inside of his organization that was devised and directed to deal with the women with whom he had various affairs.”
The recording was seized by the FBI in April when officers raided Cohen’s office. A federal investigation is underway, probing whether Trump and Cohen violated campaign finance laws and offered hush money to womenーamong them, adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougalーwho claimed they had affairs with Trump.
Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis handed the tape to CNN’s Chris Cuomo who then played it live on-air late Tuesday.
In the secret conversationーrecorded two months before the 2016 electionーCohen says, “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David.”
Cohen is likely referring to David Pecker, head of American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer. The company paid McDougal for her story about her rumored affair with the president but never published it, effectively gagging McDougal.
Trump can then be heard saying the word “cash” but because of the muddled audio, it is unclear what precedes it.
Trump's new attorney Rudy Giuliani claims Trump said "don't pay with cash," sticking with his previous claims that Trump wanted everything on paper.
“That wasn’t a heated, excitable conversation,” said Wilson. “We should be shocked with how normal they found it.”
Trump responded to the release of the tape by trying to undermine Cohen's professionalism. "What kind of lawyer would tape a client?" he tweeted on Wednesday. "Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things?"
The president has denied having the affairーor any knowledge of the payments. The recording seems to undermine that assertion.
"Trump wasn't just this naive guy who mysteriously was beset with women trying to get money from him," said Wilson. "He was a guy who went out, had a lot of these affairs, had a lot of these relationships, and then turned around and used his power, money, and influence to silence them."
The tapes also signify the danger Cohen poses to the White House. For decades, he was Trump's main "fixer" and, presumably, has unlimited knowledge of Trump's past business, political, and personal dealings.
For the full interview, click here.