Trump claims ex-lawyer's phone-taping is 'perhaps illegal'


US President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out at his former lawyer Michael Cohen, suggesting that he may have acted illegally when he secretly taped a discussion about payments to a former Playboy model over an alleged affair.

"It was already out there so seemed no point in objecting except on principle", Giuliani said.

Regarding Trump's claim of illegality, New York state law permits the recording of a phone call or an in-person conversation as long as one party consents, according to attorney John B. Harris, who authored an article on the subject for the New York Legal Ethics Reporter.

On Friday, another Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, initially told the New York Times that the president and Mr Cohen had discussed payments to Ms McDougal on the tape. But she said her opinion changed this year when she learned new details about the deal, including that her attorney at the time and AMI had both been in contact with Cohen while her deal was being negotiated.

The tabloid ultimately sat on it, a practice known as "catch and kill", preventing it from becoming public.

Although Trump charged in his tweet that the Federal Bureau of Investigation broke into Cohen's office, the agency was executing court-approved warrants in conducting the searches.

In a statement Friday, President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed the recording's existence and said no payment was ever made. According to, Cohen's lawyers still felt that 22 of those ought to have been protected by attorney-client privilege, but said that they would not pursue their objections to those in court. Only the client - in this case, Trump - can waive the privilege.

"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance", Giuliani told the Times. Lawyers and those familiar with the recordings told the newspaper that Cohen had secretly taped a conversation with the president two months before the 2016 election.

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Trump has denied the allegations from McDougal and Daniels.

But Bash noted on air that Cohen apparently recorded his calls not just with Trump but with "people around the president" and other "significant individuals".

Acting as special master in the Cohen case, Barbara Jones has already released over 2 million items seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecutors.

But he said no money was actually ever transferred, and the recording itself amounted to "powerful exculpatory evidence". "And any attempt to spin can not change what is on the tape".

The White House has said Trump denies having sex with Daniels.

In May, President Trump admitted that he had reimbursed Mr Cohen for a payment he made to another woman to hush up her claims of an affair. The Wall Street Journal reported subsequently that the conversation took place in person. It is ironic that Trump would complain about a privileged tape that would not have been released and then chooses to make it public himself.

On Friday evening, shortly after the news broke, Trump tried to reignite a controversy he had previously stoked over NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

The Justice Department says Cohen has been under investigation for months for criminal conduct largely centred on his personal business dealings.