Trump raises questions over seized Cohen recording

Trump raises questions over seized Cohen recording

Kerry Wise
July 22, 2018

He said the FBI's raid on Cohen's office was "inconceivable", but alleged Cohen's actions were "even more inconceivable" and "perhaps illegal".

Taking to his favorite method of communicating with the masses, Trump's tweet Saturday was the president's first response to Friday's report in the New York Times that claimed tapes seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in April contained secret conversations between him Cohen discussing a proposed hush payment to a Playboy model who claims to have had an affair with the billionaire in 2006. The Wall Street Journal reported subsequently that the conversation took place in person.

On Friday, another Trump lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, confirmed to the New York Times that the president had discussed the payments with Mr Cohen on the tape.

Rudy Giuliani, the public face of Trump's legal team, said the payment was never made and suggested that the recording was "exculpatory" when the New York Times first reported on the matter. It is ironic that Trump would complain about a privileged tape that would not have been released and then chooses to make it public himself.

"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance", Giuliani told The Times.

It is a potential problem for Mr Trump because undisclosed payments to bury embarrassing stories about a political candidate can be treated as a violation of United States campaign finance laws.

NY is a "one-party consent" state, meaning that in general, it is legal to record a conversation as long as at least one party agrees, even if that person is the one doing the recording.

The recording cuts off with Trump mid-sentence, one person said, and picks up in the middle of a conversation Cohen is having with another person.

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"So not only is suggesting that Cohen committed a crime in recording him, but to accuse his former lawyer, who simply said may have the goods on him of committing the crime is a bad, awful idea", Specter continued.

Yet "it remains murky whether and when a NY lawyer can ethically tape without advance disclosure", Harris said.

But his attorney, Lanny Davis, dismissed any notion that Cohen could be put in legal jeopardy due to the recording.

Trump has denied the affair. The source also said that Cohen "is no longer taking a bullet for you (Trump), is no longer a flunky", calling his declaration of independence "his July 4th moment".

"When the recording is heard, it will not hurt Michael Cohen. Any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape". But her opinion changed this year when she learned new details about the deal, including that her lawyerh at the time and AMI had both been in contact with Cohen while her deal was being negotiated.

"Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that", Davis said.

Transparency groups and Democrats have argued that the secret efforts to silence Trump accusers, including a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission as potential violations of campaign finance laws, which require disclosure of campaign expenditures.

In August 2016, AMI paid McDougal $150,000 for the right to her story but never published an article based on her account. But the agreement meant that McDougal signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from revealing the affair.