Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for service at First Presbyterian Church in Muscatine, Iowa, Jan. 24, 2016.
Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP

Christian pastors get mentioned by name in Cohen’s Trump tape

Updated

The new audio recording from Michael Cohen is generating quite a bit of interest, and for good reason. It seems to feature a candid pre-election chat with Donald Trump about a possible payment involving one of the president’s former alleged mistresses.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/24/18, 9:26 PM ET

Cohen Trump tape offers bevy of new leads for investigators

Rachel Maddow shares the CNN broadcast of an audio tape of Donald Trump speaking with Michael Cohen ostensibly about paying a former Playboy Playmate who says she had an affair with Trump, and discusses with a distinguished panel. CNN says the tape came
Rachel Maddow shares the CNN broadcast of an audio tape of Donald Trump speaking with Michael Cohen ostensibly about paying a former Playboy Playmate who says she had an affair with Trump, and discusses with a distinguished panel. CNN says the tape came
But looking over the transcript of the recording, something else struck me as notable.

TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He’s a good –

COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott?

TRUMP: Can’t believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What’s, what’s happening –

COHEN: No –

TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?

COHEN: Oh, yeah, a hundred – no, you’re talking about Mark Burns. He’s, we’ve told him to [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

TRUMP: I don’t need that – Mark Burns, are we using him?

COHEN: No, no.

Without more details and context, it’s a little difficult to understand the exact nature of this exchange, though Trump and Cohen were almost certainly referring to Mark Burns and Darrell Scott, two Christian pastors associated with the Republican campaign in 2016.

The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins made the case that Trump was “asking about which pastor surrogates he can ‘use’ to cover for him,” which is probably not the sort of thing most ministers would want to hear, especially on a recording that deals with payoffs involving a former mistress.

But that’s what made Burns’ response so interesting.

On Twitter last night, Burns, who ran a failed congressional campaign in South Carolina this year, wrote, “I’ve been saying for almost 2 yrs some in the campaign tried to marginalize my role, in the closing days. This tape and the fact that I remained traveling with and speaking for the campaign after this conversation. is even more proof @realDonaldTrump remained in my corner. #maga”

In other words, the recording features Trump asking about using the conservative pastor, and instead of taking offense, Burns thinks this is great news.