Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt said Friday that President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is becoming "increasingly urgent" in his indirect calls for help from the president with his legal woes.

Fox News has confirmed that Cohen secretly recorded a 2016 conversation in which then-candidate Trump discussed a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The FBI obtained the recording -- which was made two months before the 2016 election -- during a raid on Cohen's office earlier this year. The Justice Department is investigating Cohen’s involvement in paying women to bury embarrassing news stories about Trump ahead of the election.


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Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed that Trump and Cohen discussed paying McDougal in the recording, but said the payment was ultimately never made.

A few weeks ago, Cohen told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he intends to put his "family and country first," suggesting to observers that he would cooperate with prosecutors. 

Stirewalt said he believes Cohen has now fired a "pretty serious shot across the bow" toward the Oval Office to give him a pardon or money for his defense, otherwise he will turn over evidence. 

"If we're applying Occam's Razor on the leak ... we would say who benefits from it? And the 'who benefits' is Michael Cohen," he added.

The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 that McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc. -- the parent company to the National Enquirer -- for the rights to the story, but it never ran. McDougal has sued AMI, alleging Cohen was secretly involved in those discussions. The lawsuit was settled in April.

McDougal claims she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago.

Stirewalt agreed with Melissa Francis that this particular leak will not do much political harm to Trump, but Cohen could be signaling to Trump that other more damaging recordings will follow. 

"Maybe Cohen is saying, 'Guess what, since I have this recording, I have a million others and maybe this one is OK but the rest of them are much worse,'" said Francis. 

Watch the full discussion above.


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