MANHATTAN (CN) – Federal prosecutors took possession of 12 audio files following privilege waivers by President Donald Trump and his embattled attorney Michael Cohen on Friday, the same day the New York Times offered a tantalizing glimpse at one secret recording.
The revelations came to light Monday in a letter written by retired federal judge Barbara Jones, the special master overseeing privilege issues in Cohen’s criminal investigation.
“On July 20, 2018, the parties withdrew their designations of ‘privileged’ as to 12 audio items that were under consideration by the special master,” Jones wrote in a single-page letter. “Based upon those de-designations, the special master released the 12 items to the government that day.”
On Twitter, Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis goaded Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani to downplay the significance of the recordings.
“Will @RudyGiuliani call these tapes ‘exculpatory’ again?” Davis tweeted on Monday.
Davis had been referring to Giuliani’s reaction to a Times story revealing that one tape between Cohen and Trump discussed payments to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who accused Trump of silencing an affair she said they had shortly after Melania Trump gave birth to their son Baron in 2006.
“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, told the paper at the time.
Mocking that position, Davis appeared to predict that the tapes would tell a different story.
“As I noted before, the tapes will speak for themselves – spin can’t change facts,” he said.
Trump’s attorney Joanna Hendon, from Spears & Imes, and the Trump Organization’s attorney Alan Futerfas did not respond Monday to telephone and email requests for comment.
Porn star Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti urged Cohen to make the recordings public.
“There is now no claim of privilege and there is no court order requiring them to be kept secret,” Avenatti noted on Twitter. “They must be released immediately. Otherwise, [Cohen] should not ever try and claim he is a patriot or speak of love of country!”
Before advocating to release the tapes, Avenatti fought to designate recordings related to his client Daniels as privileged. The attorney told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he now wants those released, too.
“I know that there are recordings between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson related to my client,” he said, adding that he does not know whether they were among the dozen. Daniels also claims to have had an affair with Trump.
Contradicting anonymously sourced claims in the press, Avenatti told CNN that there is more than one recording between Cohen and Trump.
It is unknown how many other audio files the FBI seized from Cohen’s home, office and hotel room on April 8, or whether the one reported in the Times is among the 12 revealed on Monday.
Judge Jones has not disclosed the total number of the recordings at issue.
“The special master’s review of the remaining items is ongoing,” she wrote, ending her report with a cliffhanger.