CNN on Tuesday night played a 2016 recording of a conversation between Donald Trump and his then-lawyer Michael Cohen that appears to show that Mr Trump was informed of an attempt to prevent news of an alleged affair with a Playboy model from coming to light.
The context matters. Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis who provided the tape to CNN, stressed repeatedly that Mr. Trump said "cash". The tape disclosed Cohen telling Trump about plans to set up a shell company and finance the purchase of the rights to the former model's story from American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer.
In the conversation, just months before the presidential election, Mr Trump and Mr Cohen jump from subject to subject with other voices being heard. In New York state it is legal to record a conversation if one party consents.
Davis said the tape is among audio recordings that were seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a raid of Cohen's home and office in April.
As the first former federal prosecutor put it, "The way Cohen has behaved in general on Twitter and other things, they sort of know what they're getting with him, and if he had compelling evidence of crimes by Donald Trump, they could put a lot of their qualms aside about how he carries on".
Government watchdog group Common Cause has said that the proposed payment benefited Trump's presidential election campaign and the failure to document it was potentially illegal.
Davis said Tuesday that the decision to go public with the recording was spurred by insults lobbed at his client by the President and his allies. "It's about truth", Davis said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday. Federal investigators uncovered the recording in April during raids on Cohen's home and offices. Ms. McDougal allegedly had an affair with Mr. Trump. Ms McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer, which never published it. It reveals then-candidate Trump and his lawyer at the time Mr. Cohen discussing buying the rights to Karen MacDougal's story.
Cohen can be heard on the recording saying he needs to start a company to transfer information, and says he'll need financing. Cohen has long claimed his loyalty to Trump was unbreakable - most famously saying "I'm the guy who would take a bullet for the president" - but in an exclusive interview earlier this month with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Cohen signaled a willingness to cooperate with investigators.