President Donald Trump took a direct shot at his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen Saturday, tweeting that it was "perhaps illegal" for his former fixer to have recorded their conversations, including at least one related to hush money to silence a Playboy model who says she had an affair with him.
The newspaper, citing lawyers and others familiar with the recording, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the recording this year during a raid on Cohen's office.
Referring to that raid, Trump called it "inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning)".
He added that there was some good news out of the debacle after all, "the good news is that your favourite President did nothing wrong!". That conversation took place weeks before Trump's November 2016 election.
The "break in" referenced by Trump was actually the raiding by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in April of the Manhattan office and residences of Trump's then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is being investigated for potential bank and election-law crimes.
The seized recording, according to sources familiar with the investigation, includes a short conversation between Cohen and Trump, then a candidate for president, talking about a plan allegedly devised by Cohen to prevent McDougal from publicly disclosing claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Federal prosecutors in NY are investigating Mr Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and other matters related to Mr Trump's campaign, a person familiar with the investigation has told Reuters. The practice, known as "catch and kill" kept the story from becoming public for the remainder of the presidential campaign. "And any attempt to spin can not change what is on the tape".
Trump again slams Fed, trading partners
In his CNBC interview Friday, Trump shrugged off the prospect that a trade war with China could cause the stock market to tumble. When it came to interest rates, Nixon told his advisers "we'll take inflation if necessary, but we can't take unemployment".
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani says the payment was never made.
In her lawsuit against AMI, McDougal said she was happy when AMI bought her story then did not publish it, because she was not anxious for publicity.
The existence of the audio recording was first reported by the New York Times, which said Trumpand Cohen discussed a potential payment to McDougal. They shared the recording with Trump's lawyers as well, The New York Times reported, citing three people briefed on the matter.
In May, President Trump admitted that he had reimbursed Mr Cohen for a payment he made to another woman to hush up her claims of an affair.
Giuliani also denied Trump had an affair with McDougal.
But he said no money was actually ever transferred, and the recording itself amounted to "powerful exculpatory evidence".
When questioned about the allegations, President Trump has denied the affair and said he had no knowledge of any payment. David Pecker, the chairman of parent company American Media Inc (AMI), is Trump's friend.