President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen was known to tape conversations with associates and store them ― and Trump’s allies are now worried the FBI has those files after raiding Cohen’s offices this week, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
An unidentified Trump adviser told the outlet that Cohen, who has worked with Trump for decades, had a “proclivity to make tapes” of private conversations and store them digitally.
The Post said it was unclear if Cohen had taped any conversations with Trump. But a source said it was Cohen’s “standard practice” to play recordings for the president that he’d made of other top advisers. New York is a one-party consent state, meaning Cohen could legally record any phone conversation without the other person’s knowledge.
Experts described the recordings as a potential “gold mine” in interviews with the Post, saying that if they exist and are admissible in court, they could prove extremely valuable to prosecutors.
Trump expressed outrage after the FBI raid earlier this week, calling it a “disgraceful situation” and a “total witch-hunt” during his off-the-cuff remarks to reporters. On Tuesday, he tweeted that “attorney-client privilege is dead!”
The FBI raided Cohen’s offices, home and hotel room earlier this week, taking his computers and phones and seizing documents related to a payment he said he’d made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally approved the raid, The New York Times reported. The raid itself was executed by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is currently led by Trump appointee Geoffrey Berman.
A team at the Department of Justice would need to review any tapes the FBI has seized to determine whether they violate attorney-client privilege and fall within the scope of the search warrants.
Attorney-client protections do not apply to conversations that further a crime or act of fraud, Reuters notes.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.