Trump claims ex-lawyer's phone recording 'perhaps illegal'

Wednesday, 25 Jul, 2018

President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday morning at his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and mischaracterized the government's April raid of Cohen's home and business, one day after reports that Cohen recorded a conversation with Trump about a former Playboy model who says Trump had an affair with her. "It was already out there, so no point in objecting except on principle", said Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney.

NY is a "one-party" consent state, meaning that as long as one participant in the conversation gives permission to record, it is legal.

If investigators suspect that there was a payment that was for the benefit of the campaign but not reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), that could be a violation of campaign finance rules.

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal claims she had an affair with Trump after they met in 2006, shortly after Trump's wife Melania gave birth to their son Barron. "Rudy claims the tape is 'exculpatory.' Why so angry?" he wrote, referring to Giuliani's comments to the New York Times that the taping is "exculpatory evidence".

Trump had previously defended Cohen after he came under pressure by investigators linked to the Russian Federation investigation, but rumors have swirled that Trump's personal lawyer might not be so loyal. He said the tape would show that Trump makes clear that if there is going to be a payment, it should be done by check, which would be easily traced. He said the conversation does not pose any legal jeopardy for the president. Only the client - in this case, Trump - can waive the privilege.

While the American Bar Association said in 2001 it was not necessarily unethical for a lawyer to secretly record conversations with a client, Fordham University School of Law Professor Bruce Green said NY disciplinary authorities could take a more restrictive view of such recording unless extraordinary circumstances existed. The magazine, which is published by a friend of Mr Trump's, did not print it.

"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance", Giuliani told the Times. President Trump's legal team tells ABC News that the president has chosen "not to assert" attorney-client privilege on the audio recording. Mr Trump has denied the affair.

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Davis said "any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape".

Hicks also called McDougal's claim that she had an affair with Trump "totally untrue". His lawyer has said the payment was never made.

The recording was part of a large collection of documents and electronic records seized by federal authorities from the longtime Trump fixer earlier this year.

"There's nothing that's stopping Michael Cohen from releasing the audio recordings that he made between him and the president concerning my client, Ms. McDougal, and others", Avenatti said.

The Wall Street Journal said the September 2016 conversation between Trump and Cohen was about buying the rights to McDougal's story, which she had sold a month earlier to The National Enquirer for $150,000.

What has Trump previously said?

It could also further entangle the president in a criminal investigation that for months has targeted Cohen.