Actor and comedian Tom Arnold appeared to betray the trust of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen on Wednesday, giving a recording to The Wall Street Journal of a phone call he had with Cohen in which Cohen shirked responsibility for several of the criminal counts to which he pleaded guilty.
The Journal reported that Arnold recorded the call with Cohen without Cohen’s knowledge — which is legal in New York, a “one-party consent” state — in late March, and that Arnold subsequently provided it to the paper “for review.”
“I lost my business. I lost everything. My insurance, my bank accounts, all for what? Because Trump, you know had an affair with a porn star. That’s what this is about. There is no tax evasion. And the HELOC [home-equity line of credit]? I have an 18% loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a HELOC issue? How? It’s a lie,” Cohen said in the recording.
Cohen said elsewhere in the 36-minute recording, of which the Journal published a few minutes, that “they had me on campaign finance.”
But the campaign finance charges made up only two of the eight counts to which Cohen initially pleaded guilty. (He later also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.) The others were five counts for tax evasion and one count for misrepresenting his debt and cash flow when applying for the HELOC.
The Southern District of New York declined TPM’s request for comment on the recording.
Cohen’s lawyer and spokesperson, Lanny Davis, told the Journal: “Michael has taken responsibility for his crimes and will soon report to prison to serve his sentence. While he cannot change the past, he is making every effort to reclaim his life and do right by his family and country. He meant no offense by his statements.”
Arnold has known Cohen personally for at least a few months: In June of last year, Arnold posted a picture of the two together around the same time Cohen was reportedly feeling shunned by his former boss. The picture came in the course of Arnold’s hunt for the “Trump tapes” — namely, rumored recordings discussed in the so-called “Steele dossier” said to show Trump interacting with Russian prostitutes.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted final report found no evidence for the existence of such recordings. Arnold’s hunt for tapes also includes rumored recordings of Trump saying offensive things on the set of “The Apprentice.”
At one point in the call reviewed by the Journal, Cohen described himself as “a man all alone.”
“You are a hero and you’re not alone,” Arnold assured him.