Prosecutors now have 12 recordings seized from ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

  • Federal prosecutors have obtained 12 audio recordings that were in the files seized from Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump.
  • The recordings were turned over to the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York last Friday after attorneys for Cohen and Trump withdrew their claim that the recordings should be protected from prosecutors' eyes due to attorney-client privilege, according to the filing by a court-appointed watchdog.
  • One tape features Trump discussing with Cohen paying for the rights to the story of Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier.
Michael Cohen
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Michael Cohen

Federal prosecutors in New York now have 12 audio recordings that were in the files seized from Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, a court filing revealed Monday. They include one in which Trump and Cohen discuss a potential payment to a Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump that had been revealed last week.

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, told Reuters that the other tapes are of discussions in which Cohen mentions Trump to another person.

All 12 recordings were turned over to the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York last Friday after lawyers for Cohen and Trump withdrew their claim that the recordings should be protected from prosecutors' eyes due to attorney-client privilege, said the filing by court-appointed watchdog Barbara Jones.

Lanny Davis, Cohen's lawyer, said the tapes would speak for themselves.

The nature of 11 of the recordings — and the people who can be heard on them — was not disclosed.

But one of those recordings is the tape on which Trump, two months before the 2016 presidential election, discusses with Cohen paying for the rights to the story of Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier. The existence of that tape came to light last Friday when Giuliani confirmed details of it to The New York Times.

Giuliani has said no payment was made by Trump to McDougal or for her story.

At the time of that recording, Cohen and Trump discussed buying the rights to McDougal's story from American Media, the publisher of The National Enquirer, which had already purchased her story for $150,000. The Trump-friendly supermarket tabloid never ran her story that claimed she had an affair with Trump, in a tactic known by staffers at that newspaper as "catch-and-kill."

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, said on ABC News' "This Week" on Sunday that there is more than just a single taped conversation between Trump and Cohen.

"I know the substance of some of the tapes," Avenatti said on the program.

Daniels, 39, was paid $130,000 by Cohen on the eve of the 2016 presidential election in exchange for what she has said was her silence about her own sexual tryst with Trump.

Daniels said she had sex with Trump once, in 2006, the same year that McDougal has said she began a nearly yearlong affair with the future president, and the same year in which Melania Trump gave birth to their son Barron.

The White House has denied Trump had an affair with either woman. Both women were represented when they received the payments by the same lawyer, Keith Davidson.

Cohen's office was raided April 9 by the FBI, which seized electronic devices and paper records containing more than 800,000 individual files, court records show.

The vast majority of files were deemed not protected by attorney-client privilege, and as a result were turned over to prosecutors who are conducting a criminal investigation of Cohen.

Cohen has yet to be charged with any crimes. Prosecutors are probing his business dealings, and his payment to Daniels, for which Trump later reimbursed him.

In recent weeks, he has taken a series of steps that have set him at odds with Trump, including hiring Lanny Davis, a Washington lawyer who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

On Saturday, Trump in a tweet suggested that Cohen had done something "illegal" by recording him.

But a source with knowledge of the conversation noted that New York, where Cohen's talk with Trump about McDougal was made face-to-face, is a "one-party consent" state, which means that only one person in a discussion needs to know about a recording device for the taping to be legal.