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.
President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen had his phone lines wiretapped by federal investigators, according to a report from NBC News citing those familiar with legal proceedings involving Cohen.
“At least one phone call between a phone line associated with Cohen and the White House was intercepted, the person said,” NBC reported.
This revelation follows the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s hotel room, home and office on April 9, during which officials seized business records, emails and other documents related to the $130,000 payment made to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford — more commonly known as Stormy Daniels.
On April 13, the Justice Department said Cohen has been “under criminal investigation” in New York for months because of his business dealings, CNN reported.
Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan called the searches “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”
“It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his client,” Ryan said in a statement.
According to an NBC source, Cohen’s phone lines were wiretapped in the weeks leading up to the raid, but it’s unclear how long the wiretap had been authorized before that.
“Presumably that could’ve been the president, that could’ve been someone on his staff,” said NBC’s Julia Ainsley regarding the intercepted phone call between Cohen and the White House. “But we do know that Rudy Giuliani gave his client (Trump) the advice — ‘do not contact Michael Cohen. It’s very possible his phone line has been tapped.'”
According to NBC, Giuliani learned the president had made a call to Cohen a few days after the raid occurred, and warned him to never call Cohen again out of concern that prosecutors were recording the calls.
Giuliani appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity on Wednesday evening, and said Cohen’s payment to Daniels and the subsequent repayment by President Trump were “perfectly legal.”
The money to repay Cohen had been “funneled through the law firm and the president repaid it,” Giuliani explained.
“It turned out to be perfectly legal,” he said. “It’s not campaign money. No campaign fiance violation.”
Giuliani also spoke to Hannity about the FBI’s raid on Cohen last month, calling it an “outrageous violation of attorney client privilege.”
Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti responded to news of the wiretap Thursday morning.
“I think ultimately it will be disclosed that during these wiretaps the FBI learned of means by which Michael Cohen and others were going to potentially destroy… evidence or documentation,” Avenatti said during an appearance on MSNBC. “Once they had that information in hand, that is what served as the predicate or basis for them to be able to go in and get the warrants to search the home, the office and the hotel room of Michael Cohen.”
In addition to phone surveillance, previous court filings from federal prosecutors show that covert searches on Cohen’s email accounts had already been conducted.
The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI in New York declined to comment on the matter, NBC reported.
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