President Trump’s attorneys have waived attorney-client privilege over a secretly recorded conversation in which Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen discuss a payment over a claim that ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal’s had a year-long affair with the President starting in 2006, reports the Washington Examiner.
A secretly recorded conversation between President Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was reportedly deemed privileged material by the special master reviewing a trove of documents and electronic files seized from Cohen by the FBI in April.
Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Friday that a source familiar with the situation told her the tape was protected by attorney-client privilege, “but the president’s attorneys waived the privilege.” –Washington Examiner
Breaking: VF Source: Cohen Trump tape was deemed privileged by Special Master, privileged waved by Trump legal team. pic.twitter.com/wqQTJgc1Ww
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) July 21, 2018
The move comes amid claims by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s claim that the tape vindicates Trump and shows no wrongdoing – further driving a wedge between the President and his former longtime “fixer” Cohen. Cohen recently hired Clinton-pal attorney Lanny Davis to represent him.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani told The New York Times of the taped conversation about the payment. “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” he added.
That said, not everyone is convinced the tape is good for the President.
Giuliani’s claims that the tape does Trump no damage was disputed by a source close to Cohen who said that Giuliani is “trying to say what is bad is good.” Later Lanny Davis, Cohen’s newest attorney, put out a statement claiming that “when the recording is heard, it will not hurt Michael Cohen. Any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape.” –CNN
As CNN also notes, “Trump’s lawyers asking to remove the privilege designation from the recording means that the government now has access to it as part of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York’s probe into Cohen. It effectively gives prosecutors the ability to use the recording if they find it relevant to their criminal investigation of Cohen.”
On Saturday morning, Trump broke his silence over the recording over Twitter:
“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” Trump tweeted.
Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
The release of the tape sparked a widespread debate about the sanctity of attorney-client privilege, and its use in “one-party” consent states.
Gonna be HELLA interesting legal argument related to matter involving attorney Michael Cohen’s secretly taping conversations w/client Donald Trump.
Here’s where attorney-client privilege collides violently with NYS being one-party consent state, related to taping communications.
— James A. Gagliano (@JamesAGagliano) July 20, 2018
That point may be moot now that Trump’s team has effectively waived privilege.
Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels’s activist lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said Michael Cohen has several audio recordings of President Trump discussing women who have come forward after allegedly having affairs with Trump.
Avenatti told MSNBC on Friday that there are more tapes: “I know for a fact that this is not the only tape,” Avenatti said. “I think this is a very serious matter and I think that any or all audio tapes that Michael Cohen has in his possession relating to this president should be released for the public.