President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The F.B.I. seized the recording earlier this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office.
The Trump campaign has denied knowledge of payments to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who says she had a nearly yearlong affair with Trump in 2006 and sold her story to The National Enquirer, which kept it from becoming public.
The recording is potential evidence in the campaign finance investigation, but became tied up in a legal fight over what materials are protected by attorney-client privilege and thus off limits to prosecutors. It is not clear whether a federal judge has ruled on whether prosecutors can listen to the recording.
The wide-ranging search warrants served on Mr. Cohen this spring show that prosecutors are investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in payments to silence women about their relationships with Mr. Trump. In addition to Ms. McDougal’s arrangement, prosecutors also sought evidence of payments to the adult film star Stephanie Clifford, who is better known as Stormy Daniels. Such payments, depending on how and why they were made, could represent campaign finance violations.
Mr. Cohen’s case is unusual because the payment to Ms. McDougal was made by American Media Inc. In August 2016, A.M.I. bought the rights to her story about Mr. Trump for $150,000 and a commitment to use its magazines to promote her career as a fitness specialist.
For more: NY Times