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Twelve audiotapes seized when federal agents raided the home and office of former Trump private attorney Michael Cohen have now been released to federal investigators.
At least one of the tapes is a secret recording of Trump that Cohen made just before the 2016 presidential election, in which Cohen and Trump discussed a buying the rights to the story of a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump, according to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and an individual with knowledge of Cohen’s legal strategy.
It is not known whose voice is on the other 11 tapes, but Cohen, a former in-house counsel at the Trump Organization, said in court earlier this year that he only had three clients in 2017 and 2018 — Trump, Fox News host Sean Hannity and Elliott Broidy, the former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, who impregnated and then paid a woman with whom he had an affair.
The 12 tapes were among the seized items submitted to a court-appointed special master to see if they were covered by attorney-client privilege. The entities or “parties” covered by the search warrant — meaning Cohen and the Trump Organization — withdrew their designations of privilege for the 12 tapes.
Once the “parties” waived the designation, Special Master Barbara Jones turned the tapes over to federal prosecutors.
The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Cohen secretly recorded Trump shortly before the election talking about Playboy model Karen McDougal.
The recording was seized in April when the FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel rooms in Manhattan, The Times reported, citing lawyers and others familiar with the recording.
A person familiar with Cohen’s legal strategy told NBC News that “a lawyer taping a client is not illegal. New York is a one-party state. Taping a conversation is the functional equivalent of retaining notes.”
Trump said Saturday it was “inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, however, said that any attorney-client privilege claim over a recording of a phone call between Trump and Cohen about McDougal has been waived.