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Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Trump. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

CNN on Tuesday obtained the audio recording of a conversation Michael Cohen had secretly with his longtime client Donald Trump, in which the two could be heard discussing making a payment to a Playboy model who allegedly had an extramarital affair with Trump about a decade ago.

The conversation: Trump could be heard asking Cohen, "What financing?," CNN reports.

  • Cohen: "We'll have to pay."
  • Trump: "Pay with cash." The audio is muddled and it's unclear whether he suggested his attorney should pay with cash or not pay, CNN notes.
  • Cohen: "No, no." It's unclear what was said next.

Why it matters: The September 2016 recording, which Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis gave to CNN, confirms that President Trump had some knowledge of a proposal to buy the rights to the story of Karen McDougal, the Playboy model.

The backdrop: Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani had confirmed the tape on Friday, but said no payment was ever made.

  • The FBI had obtained the secretly-recorded audio, as well as 11 others, during their April raid of Cohen's office and hotel room in New York.
  • This is reportedly the only recording that contains a conversation between Cohen and Trump. A court filing this week did not say who recorded the 11 tapes nor what the other tapes picked up.

Go deeper: Michael Cohen, the problem Trump can’t make vanish

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

1 hour ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.

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