On Tuesday evening, CNN released an audio recording between Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, in which the two discuss purchasing the story rights to an alleged affair between Playboy model Karen McDougal and then-candidate Trump.
The conversation happened in September 2016, right around the same time records surfaced showing a potential pay-to-play donation of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi from 2013, which was before her office opted to not pursue a fraud case against Trump University.
While the most damning part of Cohen's recording is clearly when Trump appears to instruct the lawyer to "pay in cash," it's worth noting that the recording also seems to strongly indicate the presidential candidate was talking to Bondi over the phone about the lawsuit with his embattled for-profit school.
Though the official transcript, released by Trump's legal team, doesn't outright mention the Florida Attorney General by name and instead says "Unintelligible," if you listen to the tape it's impossible not to hear "Pam."
Here's the transcript:
TRUMP: [In background] Good. Let me know what’s happening, okay? Oh, oh. Maybe because of this it would be better if you didn’t go, you know? Maybe because of this. For that one, you know — I think what you should do is get rid of this. Because it’s so false what they’re saying, it’s such bulls—-. Um. [PAUSE] I think, I think this goes away quickly. I think what — I think it’s probably better to do the Charleston thing, just this time. Uh, yeah. In two weeks, it’s fine. I think right now it’s, it’s better. You know? Okay, hun. You take care of yourself. Thanks, [Unintelligible]. Yup, I’m proud of you. So long. Bye.
Here's the audio:
It's unclear exactly what the "Charleston thing" is, but it is clear that Trump is most definitely saying "Pam." Why the official White House transcript doesn't say "Pam" is beyond us.
But the relationship between Trump and Bondi was shady at best between 2014 and 2016, and besides an affair with a Playboy model, there was one other major thing Trump wanted to "get rid of" during this time period.
If you go back to September 2016, the story of Trump allegedly paying off Bondi to make his Trump University lawsuit go away was starting to gain traction nationally, but it hit a whole new level when the New York Times ran their piece on Sept. 14.
The Times pointed out that Trump's $25,000 donation, which was sent to a political action committee setup to help re-elect Bondi in 2014, was not only suspicious, but it was one of his largest checks to any politician.
Bondi also never explained why she accepted Trump’s donation even after learning that her office was investigating Trump University. Not only that, but she also allowed him to host a $3,000-per-head fundraiser in her honor at Mar-a-Lago, which according to the Times raised at least $50,000.
Ultimately, Bondi chose not to pursue the lawsuit against Trump, and a special investigation led by a State Attorney appointed by Republican Governor Rick Scott unsurprisingly found "no suspicious activity."
After he was elected, Trump agreed to a $25 million settlement with students in the New York case.
We've reached out to Pam Bondi for comment and will update this post if she responds.
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