Trump’s personal attorney and longtime “fixer,” Michael Cohen, whose New York home, office, and hotel room were raided by the F.B.I. on Monday, was in the habit of taping business and political conversations with associates, according to three sources who worked with him and his longtime boss at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump.
One close Trump ally told the Washington Post, “We heard he had some proclivity to make tapes. Now we are wondering, who did he tape? Did he store those someplace where they were actually seized? . . . Did they find his recordings?”
Three sources who worked closely with both men agreed that Cohen would store conversations in digital files, so he could later replay them for his coworkers.
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In their raid, bureau agents took possession of Cohen’s electronic devices, as well as his paper documents, to delve into his activities regarding “potential sources of negative publicity” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The feds obtained their warrant in part based on lawsuits from porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal, who said that they were threatened or misled into accepting hush money in order to protect the then-candidate from leaks of their respective affairs with him.
If the Department of Justice determines that any such tapes provide evidence of Cohen having helped Trump commit or cover up crimes, they will not be subject to attorney-client privilege.
Campaign staff felt wary of Cohen, even though he technically worked for the Trump Organization and not the campaign, because they believed he was secretly taping conversations to use them as leverage at a later date, boasting to friends that in New York State he only needed one-party consent to record phone calls.
A Trump crony suggested to The Washington Post that Cohen recorded phone calls in order to emulate his boss, whom some say the young lawyer revered to the point of worship, believing that Trump had enabled him to rise from Brighton Beach to the bright lights of the Big Apple.
Unfortunately for Cohen, it appears that Trump’s claims that he recorded conversations are all bluster. Meanwhile, Cohen’s recordings may now be in the hands of prosecutors investigating Trump and associates like Cohen for illegal payments, bank fraud, illegal payments, and tax evasion, not to mention obstruction of justice and conspiring with Russia to undermine American democracy.
Looks like those tapes will be used as leverage, after all . . . against Cohen, himself. That is, unless he is willing to flip on the Godfather-in-Chief.