Trump calls Cohen's taping of phone call 'inconceivable,' possibly illegal

President Trump waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Friday

"Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning) - nearly unheard of", Trump tweeted.

In his first public comments since reports were published on the recording in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Friday, Trump said it was "inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client - totally unheard of & perhaps illegal".

In the September 2016 conversation, Cohen and Trump were discussing a plan by Cohen to attempt to purchase the rights to McDougal's story from AMI for roughly $150,000, according to one person familiar with recording.

The recording, which hasn't been made public, was discovered as part of an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid in April on attorney Michael Cohen's home office and hotel in NY, sources told ABC News.

She says the $150,000 (£115,000) agreement gave the tabloid exclusive story rights and banned her from talking publicly about the alleged affair.

David Pecker, the CEO and chairman of the National Enquirer's publisher American Media Inc, is a Trump supporter who has reportedly described the president as a "personal friend".

Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, told CNN in March that she had a year-long affair with Trump in 2006.

That payout seems to be a significant part of a federal investigation into Cohen that's been going on for months, as the hush money may be in violation of campaign finance laws. Giuliani added that Trump told Cohen that if he did pay McDougal, it should be in the form of a check instead of cash so that it could be properly recorded, The Times said.

"I think we need to bring this in-house", Cohen tells Trump, according to one person with knowledge of the recording. "And any attempt to spin can not change what is on the tape".

Rudy Giuliani, now Trump's personal attorney, confirmed to ABC News that the president did have a discussion with Cohen before the election, but the former New York City mayor said the payment to McDougal discussed on that call was never made. When he learned of their existence, he was reportedly stunned.

However, the recording shows that Trump - whose spokeswoman denied he had any knowledge of the AMI deal with McDougal when it became public days before the election - in fact knew of her claims and efforts to keep her quiet at least two months earlier.

Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis said in a Twitter post that the recording will not hurt Cohen. But the Enquirer did not publish her kiss-and-tell, and she says she was tricked.

But he said no money was actually ever transferred, and the recording itself amounted to "powerful exculpatory evidence". The Playboy model in question is Karen McDougal, who has claimed she had an affair with Trump.

The White House has said that Mr Trump denies having an affair with Ms McDougal and that he has denied having sex with Stormy Daniels.

When informed about the tape, the president said "I can't believe Michael would do this with me", according to a source familiar with the tapes.

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