Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday blasted Michael Cohen and his attorney for leaking a recording of a conversation between President Trump and his ex-attorney about the possibility of buying the rights to a Playboy model’s affair claim.
The former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer accused them of twisting the president's words and questioned why Cohen’s legal team was “leaking” information that could have been “privileged and confidential.”
“If Cohen is telling the truth why are he and Lanny Davis misrepresenting the language from President Trump ‘Do not pay by cash…CHECK.’ And why are they leaking falsely privileged and confidential information. So much for ethics!” Giuliani tweeted Wednesday.
Giuliani’s tweet seems to be a direct response to Cohen’s attorney, longtime Clinton confidant Lanny Davis, saying on CNN that Trump’s lawyers “fear” Cohen because he “has the truth” about Trump.
Giuliani’s comments come as members in the Trump camp have been put on the defensive in the hours after Davis leaked the taped conversation to CNN. The tape was seized in the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s personal properties earlier this year in the criminal investigation and grand jury probe into Cohen’s personal business dealings.
But Trump’s legal team says the transaction with Playboy model Karen McDougal never took place.
On the recording, Cohen tells Trump: “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” a possible reference to David Pecker, Trump’s friend and president of National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc. The conversation came weeks after the parent company reached a $150,000 deal to pay McDougal for her story about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump, which it never published, a tabloid practice known as “catch and kill.”
Cohen then begins to say: “When it comes time for the financing,” at which point, Trump cuts him off and says, “What financing?”
What comes next is unclear. Cohen says they’ll “have to pay” something, and Trump can be heard saying “pay with cash”—after which Cohen repeatedly says “no, no, no.”
A transcript provided by the Trump legal team, though, asserts that Trump said: “Don’t pay with cash…check.”
Giuliani told Fox News on Tuesday that the team listened numerous times to the tape and determined the then-candidate told Cohen, “Don’t pay with cash.”
The president blasted Cohen, who served as his former personal attorney and self-described “fixer," on Wednesday.
“What kind of lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things? I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped –can this be so? Too bad!” Trump tweeted early Wednesday.
The president was referring to how the tape cut out immediately after the discussion in question. Giuliani claimed to Fox News that the rest of the recording would have been “exculpatory from the point of view of the president.”
Trump denies the alleged affair ever happened and his campaign had said he knew nothing about the payment.
Cohen for weeks, though, has attempted to distance himself from Trump amid the federal investigation surrounding, among other things, a separate $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged one-time sexual encounter with Trump.
Cohen, who was once quoted as saying he would “take a bullet” for Trump, gave an interview to ABC News earlier this month saying that his own family has his “first loyalty and always will.”
“I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” Cohen told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”
But former Trump campaign communications adviser Michael Caputo told Fox News on Wednesday that he was “struck” by Cohen’s “destruction” of his friendship with Trump.
“I am struck by how the destruction of longtime friendships is a central tactic to this investigation,” Caputo told Fox News in an email. “There is no probative value to this recording, so the release is simply aimed to embarrass the president and gut the Cohen-Trump relationship.”
Caputo said he was “completely confident” that neither Trump nor Cohen “did anything to collude with the Russians,” but said investigators have taken an interest in their relationship.
“This relationship goes back a long way so this development signals all bets are off,” he said.
Fox News' Judson Berger, Samuel Chamberlain, Kelly Chernenkoff, Eddie DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report.