(Bloomberg) — U.S. prosecutors probing Michael Cohen are reviewing 12 audio recordings seized in an April raid of the home, office and hotel room of President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer.
The retired judge who is deciding whether prosecutors may review the seized material said in a Monday filing that “the parties” — presumably Trump and perhaps Cohen — no longer object to the government listening to “12 audio items.” The parties had previously claimed that the 12 items were “privileged” and couldn’t be seen by the government.
On Friday, Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, confirmed that Cohen had secretly recorded a conversation in which he and Trump discussed payments to a former Playboy model who claimed she’d had an affair with Trump. The disclosure spurred speculation that Cohen had made other recordings of Trump.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are probing Cohen’s business dealings and his involvement in paying women to keep quiet about their alleged relationships with Trump.
The recordings were given to the government on Friday, Barbara Jones, the retired judge and so-called special master overseeing the review, said in her one-page order.
“On July 20, 2018, the parties withdrew their designations of ‘privileged’ as to 12 audio items that were under consideration by the special master,” Jones said. “The special master released the 12 items to the government that day.”
The order doesn’t specify what’s in the tapes.
Michael Avenatti, who represents adult film star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against Trump and Cohen, said in an email that Monday’s filing “confirmed” what he said in May: that “there were multiple recordings.”
In the recording disclosed Friday, Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing a plan to buy the rights to the story of the Playboy model, Karen McDougal, from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid, the Washington Post reported. AMI had spent $150,000 for her story.