A lawyer for Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, confirmed late Friday that Cohen does have a recording of a conversation with Mr. Trump from 2016, disputing assertions by the President’s current lawyer that it would be ‘exculpatory’ evidence which would help the President.
In a post on Twitter, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis wrote, “suffice it to say that when the recording is heard, it will not hurt” Cohen.
“Any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape,” Cohen added, in what was interpreted by some as a jab at Mr. Trump’s lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who downplayed the tape to news organizations on Friday.
The recording of the President – if done by Cohen in New York – would be legal, as the Empire State has laws which only require one party on a phone call or conversation to consent to any recording.
The White House made no statement about the tape. The President ignored questions shouted at him about the subject, as he left the White House for a weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.
The tape was part of extensive evidence seized by the FBI during an April 9 raid on Cohen, which sparked outrage from the President – “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” Mr. Trump tweeted a day after the raid.
The raid was an effort by prosecutors in New York to find out more about work that Cohen had done for the President on payments to women such as porn star Stormy Daniels, and model Karen McDougal. Both women have claimed they had relationships with the President, and were paid money to keep quiet.
Prosecutors have indicated that they are probing questions about how the payments were made before the 2016 elections – and whether any of the transactions could run afoul of federal campaign finance laws.
In recent weeks, Cohen has cut his legal cooperation with the President, making it clear in statements and interviews that his loyalty was to his family, and not Mr. Trump.
“I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” Cohen told ABC News earlier this month.
It wasn’t immediately clear if this tape recording of a Cohen-Trump phone call was among the items which had been reviewed by a former federal judge, as to whether or not attorney-client privilege would prevent its release to prosecutors.
Acting as special master in the Cohen case, Barbara Jones has already released over 2 million items seized by the FBI to prosecutors.
On Friday, she told a federal judge in court documents that of 4,085 items designated as privileged – either by Cohen or by the President’s lawyers – 1,452 of those did not deserve that designation, and were given to the feds for further review.
No charges have yet been filed against Cohen, as he now is being represented by Davis, well known for his unyielding defense of President Bill Clinton during the Whitewater investigation.