on the record
July 20, 2018

The FBI reportedly has a tape, secretly recorded by Michael Cohen, of President Trump talking about hush money payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Michael Avenatti says it's not the only one.

The lawyer for Stormy Daniels, a porn star who's also gotten hush money payments via Trump's ex-lawyer Cohen, has repeatedly said there are multiple "Trump tapes" out there. And after The New York Times reported one's existence on Friday, Avenatti immediately demanded its release.

"I know for a fact this is not the only tape," Avenatti told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "And I think that any and all tapes Michael Cohen has in his possession relating to this president should be released immediately for the benefit of the American public and they can decide what happens next."

Avenatti claimed Cohen is "one of the world's great hoarders of evidence" in a June MSNBC appearance, and predicted secret recordings had already been seized during an FBI raid of Cohen's office in April. He was at least partly right, as the Times revealed Cohen taped a discussion with Trump about a payment to McDougal, who alleged she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that this appears to be the only tape. Avenatti, for his part, wouldn't say how he apparently knows there are more recordings out there — just that he knows. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 18, 2018

President Trump is waging a war against "fake news," but he's fighting battles without the proper weapons.

Beck Dorey-Stein, who worked as a White House stenographer for five years, told CNN's New Day on Wednesday that Trump's aversion to recorded conversations makes it difficult to parse the truth when questions arise later. Dorey-Stein worked under the Obama administration before spending only a few months with the Trump administration before resigning.

Dorey-Stein recalled how she used to sit in the Oval Office with former President Barack Obama, recording his every interaction with the press. If people later questioned his words or the context for a quote, she explained, Obama would simply refer to the transcript of the conversation. Trump, on the other hand, "does not like microphones near his face," she said. "Even if a stenographer is present," she continued, "he doesn't often say 'check the transcript,' because the transcript will reveal the truth." She said that if Trump was "really interested in fighting 'fake news,'" he would encourage recordings and fall back on the transcripts to prove his claims.

She said that his lack of understanding and respect for official stenographers was partially responsible for the friction between him and British Prime Minister Theresa May, whom he denied criticizing until a recording of his criticism emerged.

"I quit because I couldn't be proud of where I worked any more," Dorey-Stein explained. "I felt like President Trump was lying to the American people, and not even trying to tell the truth." Watch the segment below, via CNN. Summer Meza

May 16, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday published transcripts of interviews with several of President Trump's top campaign officials who met with Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Among the 2,000 pages of documents was the transcript of the interview with Donald Trump Jr., who invited a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer to offer "dirt" on then-candidate Hillary Clinton. In the panel interview, Trump Jr. described how the team handled things once news of the meeting got out. In a July 2017 statement, Trump Jr. said that the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya was mostly about about an adoption program, but he later had to walk the statement back after his emails — which he released himself — showed that he had hoped for ammunition against Clinton.

The transcripts released Wednesday show that Trump Jr. hoped to leave his father, President Trump, out of the drama when it came to drafting a statement about the infamous meeting. When asked whether reports that the president had helped draft the statement were true, Trump Jr. said, "I don't know. I never spoke to my father about it." Many people were involved with the draft, Trump Jr. explained. He acknowledged that his father "may have commented through Hope Hicks," then the White House communications director, but maintained that he didn't ask his father for guidance because he "didn't want to bring him into something that he had nothing to do with."

Read more about the transcripts at CNN. Summer Meza

See More Speed Reads