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Trump attorneys waive privilege on Cohen's secret recordings

Trump attorneys waive privilege on Cohen's secret recordings

President Donald Trump says that his former personal lawyer's taping of their private phone conversations is "totally unheard of & perhaps illegal".

President Donald Trump's lawyers have waived attorney-client privilege regarding a secretly recorded conversation he had in September 2016 with his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen in which they discussed payments to an ex-Playboy model who says she had an affair with the President, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Trump insisted on his innocence in Saturday's tweet, assuring his followers that "the good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!".

The move comes as an attorney for Cohen openly questioned Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's claim that the tape showed no wrongdoing by the President, furthering the growing divide between Trump and Cohen, who had once said he'd take a bullet for the President.

The Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation had seized the recording during a raid on Cohen's office earlier this year, quoting lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

Trump had initially said publicly that he believed his longtime fixer would remain loyal to him, but Cohen has increasingly suggested he's preparing to cooperate with the feds as he grows more and more isolated from his former boss.

Trump was responding to the revelation that former attorney Michael Cohen, weeks before the 2016 election, secretly recorded their discussion of a potential payment for a former Playboy model's account of having an affair with Trump.

"Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of [the AMI payment] in advance", Giuliani said.

"In the big scheme of things, it's powerful exculpatory evidence", Giuliani said.

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Before the election, the Trump campaign denied any knowledge of payment to McDougal, but the taped conversation could undermine those denials. Laws in NY governing the recording of phone conversations do not require two-party consent. The source with knowledge also said Cohen's recording of the tape was not illegal, as NY is a one-party consent state for recordings.

Trump is largely silent in the conversation, the people said, neither expressing surprise nor indicating whether he knew previously about the AMI deal. It was not immediately clear where Trump and Cohen were located at the time of the call.

Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis said in a Twitter post that the recording will not hurt Cohen.

In May, President Trump admitted that he had reimbursed Mr Cohen for a payment to another woman to hush up her claims of an affair. "Any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape", Davis said in a statement on Friday.

One in particular features Trump and Cohen discussing an affair that Trump had back in 2006 with ex-playmate Karen McDougal. After being silent for more than a decade, she started speaking about it earlier this year, first opening up in an interview with The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow in February.

The FBI obtained a warrant to raid his properties in April as part of a federal criminal investigation into whether Cohen committed wire fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations while working for Trump.

But the supermarket tabloid did not publish her kiss-and-tell, and she had said she was tricked.

McDougal sold her story to The National Enquirer for $150,000, according to the Times.

Non-disclosure agreements of the type signed by Ms Daniels and allegedly by Ms McDougal are not in themselves illegal.