Trump claims ex-lawyer's phone-taping is 'perhaps illegal'

U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits his hotel in New York City

He was reacting over the revelation that federal investigators have an audio recording in which then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen discussed in the fall of 2016 making payments for the story of Playboy model Karen McDougal, who allegedly had an extramarital affair with Trump, according to two people familiar with the tape.

Referring to that raid, Trump called it "inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning)".

US President Donald Trump has responded to reports that his former attorney Michael Cohen secretly recorded their conversions, calling the move "totally unheard of and probably illegal".

On Friday, another Trump lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, confirmed to the New York Times that the president had discussed the payments with Mr Cohen on the tape.

When The Wall Street Journal reported on AMI's payments to McDougal days before the election, the Trump campaign denied knowing about them.

Current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the payment was never made and the brief recording shows Trump did nothing wrong.

The former model, Karen McDougal, said she began an almost yearlong affair with Mr Trump in 2006 shortly after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron, the Times said.

Giuliani said no campaign funding was involved in the discussion between Trump and Cohen, who has distanced himself from Trump in recent months as the FBI investigates Cohen's business dealings.

The Department of Justice is looking into alleged hush money paid to women who claim they had a relationship with Mr Trump.

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While, such tapes do not necessarily imply guilt on the part of Cohen or the President, Trump's reaction certainly doesn't sound like something coming from an individual with nothing to worry about.

Trump had apparently been unaware of the recordings until he was told about them earlier this week.

As for the legality of recording a private conversation, the content of what is on the alleged tape matters.

Mr Trump had previously denied all knowledge of the $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement. David Pecker, the chairman of parent company American Media Inc (AMI), is Trump's friend.

Trump and Cohen discussed the possible payment after AMI bought the rights to McDougal's story for $150,000 in August 2016. Citing a source familiar with the tapes, CNN reported that Trump, when informed about the September 2016 tape, said, "I can't believe Michael would do this to me".

He later told the New York Times that the two men had in fact spoken about paying the Enquirer for rights to the story, thereby repaying the tabloid the amount it had given to Ms McDougal.

Mr Cohen, who has not been charged, is reportedly under investigation for possible bank and tax fraud, as well as potential violation of election law.

The White House has said Trump denies having sex with Daniels.

Giuliani said the proposed payment was a personal matter and not subject to campaign finance law.

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