Michael Avenatti has a warning for President Donald Trump: More tapes are out there.
At a roundtable Sunday on ABC News, the lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels said that the secret recording of Trump that was revealed two days ago is far from the only one made by Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen.
“This is not the only tape,” Avenatti said. “I can tell you that for a fact. There’s multiple tapes.”
He added: “That, ultimately, is going to prove to be a big problem for the president. You know, that old adage, ‘You’ve lived by the sword, you die by the sword,’ is going to be true in this case, because the president knew that his attorney, Michael Cohen, had a predisposition towards taping conversations with people.”
On Friday, three people with knowledge of the conversation told The Washington Post that Cohen had secretly taped a conversation with Trump in September 2016 about whether to purchase the rights to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal’s account of her alleged affair with Trump.
That conversation took place one month after AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, bought the rights to McDougal’s story for $150,000, then shelved it.
Cohen is being investigated for potential bank and election-law crimes. The recording was among the records seized in an FBI raid of his office and residences in April, multiple people familiar with the probe said.
One of Trump’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement Friday that the September 2016 recording is “powerful exculpatory evidence.” Even so, Trump lashed out at Cohen in a tweet on Saturday, claiming that it was “totally unheard of & perhaps illegal” that his attorney would tape him, despite the fact that New York’s wiretapping law permits the recording of conversations so long as at least one party agrees.
Avenatti is representing Daniels, who was paid $130,000 by Cohen in exchange for her silence about an alleged decade-old affair with Trump. Avenatti has a history of taunting the president with claims to have more information on Trump’s alleged indiscretions. In March, he tweeted an image of what appeared to be a DVD and said he was sending a “warning shot” to the president regarding his denials of an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
During Sunday’s roundtable, retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, an informal Trump adviser, pressed Avenatti to reveal how he knew of the existence of additional tapes, arguing that the leak of such information could represent a potential violation of lawyer-client privilege.
“You’re not in a position where you have been given that information properly,” Dershowitz said during one heated exchange.
Avenatti declined to reveal any details, maintaining that the only way he would have acted improperly would have been if he received the tape from someone in law enforcement.
“All of the information that the FBI seized, that’s not under lock and key,” he said, adding: “I could have received it from Michael Cohen. I could have received it from one of Michael Cohen’s counsel. I could have received it from others.”
Avenatti also noted that he ran into Cohen on Monday at a restaurant in New York City and that the two had a “very fruitful” conversation.
“I think he is ready to tell the truth,” Avenatti said of Cohen. “And ultimately, I think he is going to cooperate with us as it relates for our search for the truth.”
In a statement, Cohen’s attorney, Brent Blakely, said that neither he nor his client had cooperated with or provided any information to Avenatti. He added that they did not have “any interest whatsoever in cooperating with Mr. Avenatti to the detriment of President Donald Trump.”
“Mr. Cohen’s legal matters will not be tried in the court of public opinion, but in a court of law,” Blakely said.
The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.