Most are saying the motive was to "get ahead" of the bad news and thereby put the Trumpian spin on it.
(I wonder if Giuliani's use of "exculpatory" was a bit over the heads of Trump's base.)
One of the things I noticed is that supposedly the conversation includes Trump saying that any payment -- there's no evidence of one directly being made by Trump to the model who alleges a long-term affair with the "president" -- be made by check, not cash.
CNBC, however, is reporting that it was Trump who brought up the cash route and that Cohen said it should be by check:
Giuliani told the (New York) Times that the recording made by Cohen lasts for less than two minutes, and demonstrated that Trump committed no wrongdoing.
Giuliani was quoted as saying that Cohen and Trump discussed Trump paying McDougal for her story, separately from the payment she received from The Enquirer, which would guarantee her silence in the future.
"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of [The Enquirer's payment] in advance" of the conversation with Cohen, Giuliani said, according to the report.
Giuliani said that Trump had told Cohen that if he were to pay McDougal he should do so with a check, rather than cash, so that there would be (a) record of the payment
"In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani told the newspaper.
But a source familiar with the recording told CNBC on Friday night that, in fact, it was Trump who raised the idea of paying McDougal with cash. The source also said that it was Cohen who told Trump they would use a check to pay her if they ended up making such a payment.
It's hard to believe either Cohen or Trump would suggest using a check because there would be a record of any payment.
What this whole thing smells like is a staged recording to provide cover for either Trump or Cohen, depending who actually touted the pay-by-check route.
If this was a video recording, you'd probably see them winking at each other.
Makes me wonder if other -- even most -- Cohen "recordings" are bogus and simply feeble self-serving attempts at alibis.