UPDATE: NBC News has since retracted their statement that President Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was wiretapped. Instead, they say that the phone calls were “monitored” by logging the calls known as a pen register.
Following the early April raids on the office, home and hotel room of longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump caustically remarked that attorney-client privilege was dead in the eyes of his detractors.
That assertion could very well have just been bolstered if an anonymously-sourced report by NBC News turns out to be true, as it would indicate a rather blatant violation of that privilege on the part of federal investigators looking into various allegations involving Cohen.
According to two unnamed individuals “with knowledge of the legal proceedings involving Cohen,” federal investigators obtained wiretaps on Cohen’s phone lines. The attorney is being investigated for a payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, allegedly to buy her silence after an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
One unnamed source with “direct knowledge” of the wiretaps claimed they had been in place in the weeks prior to the raids, though it is unclear how long ago those wiretaps were authorized.
This is the first that has been heard of wiretaps being utilized in this investigation, as New York prosecutors involved in the case had previously admitted in court filings only to having used covert searches of Cohen’s multiple email accounts to obtain information.
It’s noteworthy that neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York offered any sort of official comment to NBC for this report.
Two other anonymous sources described as being “close” to Rudy Giuliani, the newest member of Trump’s legal team, alleged that Giuliani had learned that Trump had made a phone call to Cohen shortly after the raids had occurred and cautioned him never to make such a call again as prosecutors could be recording the calls.
Those sources, said to have “direct knowledge of the conversations,” also alleged that Giuliani warned Trump that Cohen might “flip” on him but that Trump insisted Cohen would remain loyal.
Neither Giuliani nor a lawyer for Cohen, Stephen Ryan, responded to requests for comment on the allegations by NBC. Furthermore, the White House merely shifted such inquiries to outside counsel.
With zero on-the-record confirmation and only the word of anonymous sources to go on, NBC speculated wildly about what sort of “incriminating information” Cohen might deliver to prosecutors if he did indeed “flip” against Trump.
Considering that Cohen worked with the Trump Organization for nearly two decades, they surmised that any information provided by Cohen could prove relevant to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
NBC further speculated that investigators were not only looking into the payoff of Stormy Daniels by Cohen, but also an alleged payoff of a former Playboy Playmate alleged to have had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
On top of that, investigators are supposedly also looking for any information related to the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape that was leaked a month prior to the election in which Trump bragged about how some women would let him do whatever he wanted with them because of his fame.
It remains to be seen how any of that is relevant to Mueller’s investigation. Cohen and Trump have insisted that the vast majority of the materials seized from Cohen should be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Attorney-client privilege has long been understood to protect the private conversations between an attorney and their client from the prying eyes — and listening ears — of government prosecutors. But that long-standing protection seems to have been tossed by the wayside in the Age of Trump.
It would appear that in their zeal to “get Trump,” some “deep state” actors seem willing to use any means necessary to attain that goal, no matter the legality or traditional limits.
As for the anonymous reports of wiretaps on Cohen, we’ll have to wait and see if they are ever confirmed or this is just the latest “fake news” smoking gun to blow up in the anti-Trump media’s hands.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.