Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film actor Stormy Daniels, said Sunday there are “multiple tapes” of conversations between President Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, and that it will turn into a “big problem” for the president.
Federal investigators reportedly have an audio tape of Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen two months before the 2016 election discussing a payment to former Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. No payment was made, although the National Enquirer did give her $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story, which it never ran.
Mr. Avenatti said he ran into Mr. Cohen at a New York City restaurant earlier in the week. He thinks the lawyer is ready to help his own effort with Ms. Daniels, who says she was paid by Mr. Cohen before the election to keep mum about a past sexual relationship with Mr. Trump.
“I think he is ready to tell the truth. And ultimately I think he is going to cooperate with us as it relates for our search for the truth,” Mr. Avenatti told ABC’s “This Week.”
As it stands, the Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying alleged hush money to women before the election to keep them from going public with their accusations of affairs with Mr. Trump. The president denies having the affairs.
He told The Times that the recording was less than two minutes long and that Mr. Trump did not know he was being recorded, asserting the president had done nothing wrong.
“That, ultimately, is going to prove to be a big problem for the president,” Mr. Avenatti said. “You know, that old adage, you’ve lived by the sword, you die by the sword is going to be true in this case because the president knew that his attorney Michael Cohen had a predisposition towards taping conversations with people.”
Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, asked how Mr. Avenatti would be in a position to know if there are multiple tapes and their content, especially since they may qualify for attorney-client privilege.
“How do you have that information? How are you right? How did you get that information that nobody else knows?” he said on ABC. “You’re not in a position where you have been given that information properly.”
Mr. Avenatti said all of the information seized by the FBI isn’t “under lock and key.”
“I could have received it from Michael Cohen. I could have received it from one of Michael Cohen’s councils. I could have received it from others. There’s a host of ways I could have obtained it,” he said.
Lanny Davis, an attorney representing Mr. Cohen, pushed back on Twitter.
“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) — almost unheard of,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”