MANHATTAN (CN) – Reacting to reports of federal monitoring of Michael Cohen’s phone calls weeks before agents raided the attorney’s office, home and hotel room, Rudy Giuliani called for the Trump administration to intervene.
“I am waiting for the attorney general to step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation,” Giuliani said in a phone interview this afternoon with The Hill.
A new addition to the president’s legal roster, Giuliani issued the statement less than 24 hours after contradicting prior reports from the Trump camp about a payment of $130,000 Cohen paid to the porn actress Stormy Daniels.
While Cohen had previously insisted that he used his own money, and that Trump knew nothing of the payment, the former New York City mayor told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that the funds were “funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.”
The April 9 raids of Cohen’s properties were said to be targeting communications about Cohen’s payment to Daniels, who claims that she was paid to keep quiet about a one-night stand she had years earlier with Trump.
Daniels, whose birth name is Stephanie Clifford, brought a suit in Los Angeles to have the settlement declared void, but a court there put the matter on hold in light of Cohen’s criminal investigation in New York.
While federal prosecutors revealed in prior court filings that their covert searches targeted multiple email accounts of Cohen’s, NBC cited two anonymous sources Thursday in saying that wiretaps of Cohen’s phone lines were in place weeks before the April 9 raids.
Hours later, NBC walked back this language, emphasizing that whatever “monitoring” of phone calls that occurred did not involve active listening by federal authorities. Authorities obtained a log of Cohen’s phone calls, known as a “pen register,” NBC quoted three senior U.S. officials as saying.
Along with Julia Ainsley, NBC News investigative Tom Winter reported that Thursday that “at least one phone call conversation between a long belonging to Michael Cohen and the White House was also intercepted.”
Giuliani was speaking to The Hill about what he called a blatant transgression of attorney-client privilege before NBC corrected the earlier wiretap language.
Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison, attorneys for Cohen at the firm McDermott Will & Emery, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on NBC’s report.
Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti meanwhile tweeted gleefully this afternoon about the reports, hinting that the revelations will add more stress to the president’s relationship with his former fixer,
“If the NBC reporting re: audio wiretaps is true, and I have every reason to believe it is,” Avenatti wrote, “the pucker factor associated with Mr. Cohen and the President will remain immeasurable for the weeks and months to come. #basta”
Prosecutors have not yet examined the materials seized on April 9 from Cohen’s office, home and suite at the Loews Regency hotel while a court-appointed special monitor determines whether any are protected by attorney-client privilege.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood tapped former federal judge Barbara Jones for the special master post on April 26.
Along with physical documents, the privilege review will cover digital material on hard drives and several dozen phones and mobile devices. “We are not going to start reviewing the documents substantively,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay promised Judge Wood last week.
On Monday, Daniels filed another suit in New York, this time saying that Trump defamed her by calling it a “total con job” after she released a sketch of the man she claims threatened her about her alleged fling with Trump.
Hours before NBC broke its wiretap report, President Trump tweeted confirmation about Cohen’s payment, saying it was part of a nondisclosure agreement that “was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.”
The president has not yet tweeted anything about NBC’s report. In March 2017, Trump accused former President Barack Obama of secret phone surveillance.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” he tweeted. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”