The Drudge Report’s top item today is a picture of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen with a big headline that reads, “THE RAT.” You can see it here. The link takes you to a piece by the Daily Mail about the fallout from the Cohen-Trump tape that CNN aired last night. You can listen to the tape and read about it here.
By this morning, Donald Trump had broken his silence and was tweeting about the tape, which seems to be a conversation between him and Cohen about plans to pay off a Playboy playmate who allegedly had an affair with Trump. Trump blasted Cohen for making the secret recording of their conversation, which took place back in 2016.
Here’s what you need to know.
Trump Blasted Cohen For Making the Recording of Their Private Conversation. “What Kind of Lawyer Would Tape a Client?”
Trump didn’t react to the tape right away, although his current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was spinning to reporters as soon as CNN aired the recording. Trump stayed off of twitter overnight. Then this morning, he attacked Cohen’s integrity. He tweeted, “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?”
Trump said something similar on Saturday, after news broke that the FBI had raided Cohen’s office and had seized recordings of conversations between Cohen and Trump. On Saturday, Trump said he was upset about two things: the fact that the FBI had raised Cohen’s office at all, and the fact that Cohen had made the recordings in the first place.
He called Cohen’s actions — recording a client — “totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.” Trump didn’t say anything about the actual content of the recordings. He didn’t tweet about the allegation that he’d conspired to pay off Karen McDougal. He also didn’t wade into the debate over whether he was suggesting paying off McDougal with cash, since cash is impossible to trace. (Giuliani says that Trump never suggested paying in cash; he says Trump wanted to use a check.)
In New York, Recording A Conversation Without The Other Person’s Consent Is, In Fact, Legal
A couple of fact-checkers have looked at Trump’s claim that it was “perhaps illegal” for Cohen to secretly record his conversation with Trump. CBS News’ legal analyst, Rikki Kleiman, says that in fact, Cohen’s recording was perfectly legal. This is a complicated issue because the laws about making secret recordings are different from state to state. But New York is what’s known as a “one party consent” state. That means that as long as at least one person consents to the recording, it’s fine to tape a conversation. In this case, Cohen would have been the person consenting to his own recording.
CBS’s legal expert, Klieman, adds that it is very unusual for a lawyer to record their client. But Klieman says it’s not clear whether Michael Cohen was acting as a lawyer in that recording, or whether he was speaking to Trump as a friend. Klieman says,”There were vast amounts, in fact hundreds of thousands of documents that were seized from Michael Cohen’s offices and home and hotel. Of these, the special master reviewed the hundreds of thousands and only a small percentage of them was considered privilege. We don’t even know if this conversation with then candidate Trump and Michael Cohen was in the privilege pile or the non-privilege pile.”
Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen’s Lawyer, Says There Are More Tapes to Come
Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, was on Good Morning America today to talk about the tapes. He said there are “certainly” more tapes that will come out. The FBI said they had seized 12 tapes when they raided Cohen’s office. But it’s not clear whether any of the other tapes have Trump’s voice on them. Last night, Rudy Giuliani said that the Trump team had all the tapes and that there are no more tapes of conversations between Trump and Giuliani.
Giuliani also criticized Cohen, last night, for having made the recording of his private conversation with Trump. Giuliani didn’t call Cohen’s behavior illegal, but he did say that the president was “disappointed” when he learned about the recording. “He’s disappointed,” Giuliani told the Washington Posts’ Bob Costa. “Disappointed his own lawyer recorded him.”
Social Media Users Quickly Attacked Cohen For Being a “Rat”
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tweets describing Michael Cohen as a rat today. Social media users have been calling Cohen a rat, a “singing canary,” a “slimeball,” and a “cockroach,” among other insults. Some of the sample tweets are below.