We finally know what's on that tape in which then-candidate Donald Trump and Michael Cohen reportedly discussed paying for the rights to Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal's story of an alleged affair with Trump. The story at the time belonged to the publisher of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., and the tape provides the first evidence that Trump spoke with Cohen about purchasing the rights to women's stories -- apparently to silence them -- before the 2016 election.
Cohen and the White House have said previously that Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels hush money without Trump's knowledge. A Trump campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, also falsely denied Trump had any knowledge of AMI's deal with McDougal.
CNN obtained audio of the September 2016 call from Cohen's attorney and aired it Tuesday night. But while the tape seemed to reference McDougal's story, the conversation is brief and rather unwieldy. Below is the full transcript, which was initially provided by Trump's legal team but edited to more accurately reflect CNN's audio. The key parts are in yellow, highlighted and annotated.
TRUMP: [In background] Good. Let me know what’s happening, okay? Oh, oh. Maybe because of this it would be better if you didn’t go, you know? Maybe because of this. For that one, you know -- I think what you should do is get rid of this. Because it’s so false what they’re saying, it’s such bulls---. Um. [PAUSE] I think, I think this goes away quickly. I think what — I think it’s probably better to do the Charleston thing, just this time. Uh, yeah. In two weeks, it’s fine. I think right now it’s, it’s better. You know? Okay, hun. You take care of yourself. Thanks, [Unintelligible]. Yup, I’m proud of you. So long. Bye.
[Into phone] What’s happening?
COHEN: Great poll, by the way.
COHEN: Seen it. Great poll.
TRUMP: Making progress.
COHEN: Big time.
TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He’s a good —
COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott?
TRUMP: Can’t believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What’s, what’s happening —
COHEN: No —
TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?
COHEN: Oh, yeah, a hundred — no, you’re talking about Mark Burns. He’s, we’ve told him to [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
TRUMP: I don’t need that — Mark Burns, are we using him?
COHEN: No, no.
FEMALE: Richard [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. I’m sorry, Richard [UNINTELLIGIBLE] just called. He — just when you have a chance, he had an idea for you.
TRUMP: Okay, great.
COHEN: Um, so, we got served from the New York Times. I told you this — we were …
TRUMP: To what?
COHEN: … To unseal the divorce papers with Ivana. Um, we’re fighting it. Um, [Trump attorney Marc] Kasowitz is going to —
TRUMP: They should never be able to get that done.
COHEN: Never. Never. Kasowitz doesn’t think they’ll ever be able to. They don’t have a —
TRUMP: Get me a Coke, please!
COHEN: They don’t have a legitimate purpose, so —
TRUMP: And you have a woman that doesn’t want 'em unsealed.
TRUMP: Who you’ve been handling.
COHEN: Yes. And —
TRUMP: And it’s been going on for a while.
COHEN: About two, three weeks now.
TRUMP: All you’ve got to do is delay for —
COHEN: Even after that, it’s not going to ever be opened. There’s no, there’s no purpose for it. Um, told you about Charleston. Um, I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that — I’m going to do that right away. I’ve actually come up and I’ve spoken —
TRUMP: Give it to me and [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
COHEN: And, I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with ...
TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?
COHEN: … funding. Yes. Um, and it’s all the stuff.
TRUMP: Yeah, I was thinking about that.
COHEN: All the stuff. Because — here, you never know where that company — you never know what he’s —
TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So, I’m all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be —
TRUMP: Wait a sec, what financing?
COHEN: Well, I’ll have to pay him something.
TRUMP: [UNINTELLIGIBLE] pay with cash ...
COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it.
TRUMP: ... check.
[Tape cuts off abruptly. Separate recording begins.]
MALE: Hey Don, how are you?