White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that she could not “verify the validity” of an NBC report that President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen was wiretapped by federal investigators.
Sanders declined to say during a press briefing whether the President was concerned by NBC’s reporting, saying, “I haven’t talked to him about that,” and adding, “I can’t verify the validity of that report at this point.”
“I would refer you to the President’s outside counsel about any concerns of wiretapping,” she said, and later referred a reporter to the Justice Department in response to a question about whether the department authorized a wiretap.
During the briefing, Sanders said she was unsure of when Trump and Cohen last spoke, and said she is “not aware of specific” matters where Cohen is representing the President.
NBC News reported Thursday that Cohen was wiretapped, citing two people with knowledge of legal proceedings related to Cohen.
NBC reported that Cohen was wiretapped in the weeks leading up to an FBI raid that took place last month targeting him. NBC, citing one of its sources, said that at least one call on a phone line “associated with Cohen” with the White House was caught up in the wiretap.
Rudy Giuliani, who had recently joined Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation, told The Daily Beast on Thursday that he doubted NBC News’ report.
“Us lawyers have talked about it, we don’t believe it’s true,” Giuliani told the news site. “We think it’s going to turn out to be untrue because it would be totally illegal. You can’t wiretap a lawyer, you certainly can’t wiretap his client who’s not involved in the investigation. No one has suggested that Trump was involved in that investigation. So they’re going to wiretap the lawyer, his client, and his client the president of the United States? I don’t think so, not if they want to stay out of jail. Disclosing a wiretap is a federal felony. I never took ‘em home when I was a U.S. attorney.”
The US attorney’s office and the FBI in New York declined to comment to NBC. A lawyer for Cohen did not immediately respond to NBC’s request for comment. The White House directed NBC to outside counsel.
Trump’s lawyers advised him not to speak with Cohen after news about porn star Stormy Daniels’ claims broke, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department announced last month that Cohen is under criminal investigation. Search warrants for the raid were executed by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. CNN has previously reported that prosecutors approached the Justice Department’s criminal division to sign off on the warrants prior to their execution.
CNN’s Gloria Borger contributed to this report.