President Donald Trump’s legal team has warned his former fixer, Michael Cohen, to stop speaking out and violating lawyer-client confidentiality, the president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani told ABC News Saturday.
The warning comes just six days after Trump’s team waived lawyer-client privilege concerning a recorded conversation between Cohen and his former boss apparently about a payment to former Playboy model who has said she and Trump had a long-running affair.
“We have complained” to Cohen’s lawyers that “he’s violated the attorney-client privilege, publicly and privately,” Giuliani told the network. Giuliani said Cohen is in “grave danger of being disbarred.”
But Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, told HuffPost in a statement that Giuliani “seems to be confused.”
Giuliani “expressly waived attorney-client privilege last week and repeatedly and inaccurately — as proven by the tape — talked and talked about the recording, forfeiting all confidentiality,” Davis said.
The secretly recorded conversation, obtained by CNN, appears to involve a discussion between Cohen and Trump about buying the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about her alleged affair with Trump before he became president. Giuliani has insisted that the tape clears the president of any wrongdoing.
After the tape was released, sources told CNN that Cohen claimed Trump knew in advance about the Trump Tower meeting during his 2016 campaign involving his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Kremlin-linked attorney who was to provide damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
If that’s the case, it could have serious repercussions in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia’s interference in the election. Trump has denied knowing about the meeting ahead of time.
It may be this information that the legal team warned Cohen about, though Giuliani wasn’t clear in his ABC interview.
Giuliani also told ABC that Trump’s team has hired multiple experts to analyze the recordings of conversations between Cohen and Trump.
Giuliani has insisted that Trump told Cohen on the released tape “don’t pay with cash.” An expert used by CNN determined that Trump said, “I’ll pay with cash.” That part of the tape is muddled in the recording, but Cohen is then heard clearly saying, “No, no, no.”
Cohen also talks about apparently setting up some kind of shell operation to hide the payment.
In any case, both men appear to be agreeing to pay to suppress the story that was reportedly purchased for $150,000 by The National Enquirer — but never published.
Giuliani said he’s aware of the subject matter of 13 Cohen tapes that have been seized by the government, but that only one affects the president. The Washington Post reported that the FBI seized more than 100 recordings of Cohen conversations with a number of people.
Giuliani also noted, in case anyone suspected otherwise, that the joint defense agreement between Trump and Cohen is over.
Clarification: Language in this story has been amended to clarify that Cohen has not publicly claimed Trump knew in advance about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.