Biographer sounds the alarm: Trump's been paying off women and 'Russian gangsters' for decades
David Cay Johnston (MSNBC)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Trump biographer David Cay Johnston on Thursday morning noted that the president has been paying women off for their silence for decades — and that his protests against being taped are likely phony.

Johnston told CNN's John Berman that it came as no surprise to him that Trump's former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen recorded their conversations because that's standard practice in New York, where only one party is required to consent to a recording.

"Some lawyers may tape a client now and then to make sure they get their directions straight," the biographer noted. "And the other reason is, this is insurance. If the boss is asking you to commit an illegal act and you have a tape of him, you have an insurance policy."

Trump, Johnston said, has resorted to payoffs like those he undertook with former Playboy models Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels "the whole thirty years" he'd been covering him.

Later in the interview, the longtime Trump biographer weighed in on the president's unusually-friendly public appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier in July and said that it, too, was in keeping with his past business dealings.

"We know that Donald was suddenly flush with cash and buying assets and his sons, one of his sons has said, we were getting lots of money from Russians," Johnston said, referencing the time in 2014 when Eric Trump reportedly bragged about getting millions from Russians to a golf reporter.

"We know of documented cases where he got money from Russians," he continued. "We know Donald Trump has been doing business with Russian gangsters for years. And when I say Russians, I mean Russian-speaking people."

Watch below, via CNN: