Federal prosecutors were granted access on Friday to 12 audio recordings seized from President Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen.
That development was formalized in a Monday letter by Barbara Jones, the special master overseeing the document review in Cohen’s criminal case. She announced that “the parties” involved no longer wanted to designate the recordings as protected by attorney-client privilege.
“On July 20, 2018, the parties withdrew their designations of ‘privileged’ as to 12 audio items that were under consideration by the special master,” Jones wrote. “Based upon those de-designations, the special master released the 12 items to the government that day.”
Cohen reportedly had a habit of secretly taping conversations. One such chat was a 2016 conversation between Cohen and Trump about hush money payments made to a former Playboy model who claimed to have an affair with Trump, as the New York Times first reported Friday.
Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the report, but said the recording was “exculpatory” and showed no wrongdoing on Trump’s part.
Per CNN, Trump’s attorneys waived attorney-client privilege on his behalf on the recording about ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, and that it is among the 12 now in the government’s possession. CNN reported that it is the only tape of the 12 that features Trump.
The President appeared to be incensed that his onetime ally recorded their conversation, tweeting that it was “totally unheard of & perhaps illegal” for Cohen to do so.
New York is a “one-party state” that legally permits a person to record someone else without first obtaining consent.