Donald Trump’s personal attorney often recorded telephone conversations both before and during the 2016 presidential campaign that likely have been scooped up in the FBI raid on attorney Michael Cohen’s apartment, office and hotel room, according to sources familiar with the matter.
These recorded conversations, according to one source, were even played back at times to candidate Trump and associates, the source said. Among the recordings were discussions about the campaign and interactions with the media, the source said.
This information reveals how extensively the FBI is reviewing Cohen’s job as a fixer for Trump as well as his own personal financial entanglements.
Some of the recordings may have been on the cellphones or computers that were seized by the FBI during Monday’s raid. It’s likely to raise concerns among Trump allies that the recordings are under review because of the uncertainty over what was recorded.
CNN has also learned that the search warrant sought records relating to Cohen’s personal finances and his net worth.
One source said Cohen played to Trump and some associates conversations that he had with political and media figures during the exploratory part of the campaign.
The source said they were generally conversations about whether the news organizations were going to be fair to candidate Trump. Trump viewed the media relationships as transactional, the source said.
Whether Cohen was recording conversations in his Trump Tower office was a source of concern to some Trump associates during the campaign, two former Trump campaign officials said. The Washington Post first reported the concerns Thursday.
“It’s one of the first things people entering Trump world would be told: Don’t have conversations in his office. He’s recording it,” one former campaign official said.
As a precaution, some campaign staffers took pains to have conversations with Cohen in the hallway or elsewhere in Trump Tower.
Investigators would not immediately have access to any recordings. Anything seized in the raid would first be reviewed by an independent team that would ensure the material was not covered by attorney-client privilege or outside the scope of the warrant.
Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan didn’t respond to a call requesting comment. He previously said in a statement that the search was “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” He added that the raid “resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”