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Politics

Trump lashes out at Michael Cohen after recording of their conversation is released

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President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves federal court in New York on April 26.
(Hector Retamal / AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Post

President Trump lashed out at his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen on Wednesday for releasing a recorded conversation between the two, asking on Twitter, “what kind of lawyer would tape a client?”

Trump’s comments came the morning after Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, released a recording of a September 2016 conversation between Trump and Cohen that makes it appear Trump was familiar with a deal that Playboy model Karen McDougal made to sell the rights to her story of an alleged affair with him.

“So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?” Trump wrote, adding: “I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped - can this be so? Too bad!”

Trump also expressed concern that the recording had been terminated “while I was presumably saying positive things.” He did not elaborate.

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Davis shared the recording with CNN on Tuesday night.

New York 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. In addition, Trump’s attorneys have not claimed the recording is of a privileged attorney-client conversation.

A transcript, provided by Trump’s legal team, shows that the then-GOP presidential nominee does not register confusion or surprise when Cohen refers to a plan to purchase the rights to McDougal’s story from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid.

AMI, whose chief executive is David Pecker, signed a $150,000 deal with McDougal in August 2016 for her story but never published it.

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Tuesday night, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani disputed the idea that the recording shows that Trump knew about the McDougal deal.

Cohen, who once said that he was prepared to “take a bullet” and “do anything” to protect Trump, is under scrutiny from federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

They are investigating his business practices, as is the team led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating matters connected to Cohen as part of the broader probe of Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by the president.

In recent weeks, Cohen, who has not been charged with any crimes, has shown increasing signs of a willingness to turn against Trump.

During an interview Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Davis said Cohen has “turned a corner.”

“He’s now dedicated to telling the truth to everyone, and we’ll have to see what happens,” Davis said.

Trump also vented over Twitter on Saturday after news broke that the FBI had seized recordings that Cohen made of Trump.

In that tweet, Trump said it was “inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client,” adding: “The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

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