Donald Trump reportedly felt betrayed by personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s secret tapes that prove the president secretly paid Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep quiet about their extra-marital affair.
Reports on Friday claimed that Cohen had secretly recorded Trump talking about the payments to McDougal, which the president has vehemently denied. These tapes were seized as part of an FBI raid. As New York Times reporter Oliver Darcy noted, Trump was blindsided at the tapes and felt betrayed by Cohen. Darcy cited White House insiders who claim Trump lamented that he “can’t believe Michael would do this.”
Karen McDougal had reportedly prepared to talk about her relationship with Trump — one that took place months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their child — and signed a $150,000 contract with the media company AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer. But the contract was reportedly meant to keep McDougal quiet, and the publication never published her allegations.
There are reports that Cohen could have more tapes, raising the possibility that there could be more Trump bombshells to come.
While many profiles and reports of Donald Trump have noted that personal loyalty is paramount to the president, Trump rarely extends that loyalty to those he expects it from. That had certainly been the case with Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer who was also the target of his ridicule.
A previous report from the the Wall Street Journal claimed that Trump humiliated Michael and his family at the bar mitzvah for Michael’s son in 2012. Trump reportedly showed up late for the event, causing Cohen to delay the ceremony, and then publicly mocked Cohen when he arrived. Trump gave a speech saying he did not plan on attending, but that Cohen repeatedly called his office, his secretary, and his family members begging that Trump attend. The guests reportedly cracked up, and Cohen was humiliated.
Trump had also distanced himself from Cohen ever since FBI agents carried out a raid on Cohen’s home and office earlier this year. The raid was reportedly related to Cohen’s work in covering up Trump’s relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels and others, which critics have said amounted to illegal campaign contributions. A number of Trump surrogates, including new lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have also made attacks on Cohen’s character.
Michael Cohen has also distanced himself from Trump, Newsweek noted. On Thursday, Cohen took to Twitter to defend the American press after Trump ridiculed them as the “enemy” of the American people after critical coverage of his presidency.