NBC corrects story that Trump attorney Michael Cohen was wiretapped, intercepted White House call
A bombshell story that claimed federal agents wiretapped President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen was corrected Thursday afternoon by NBC News.
The report said Cohen's calls were being monitored for several weeks and investigators intercepted at least one call between a line associated with Cohen and a line at the White House.
NBC walked back the claims hours after the report, saying that federal agents instead obtained a log of the calls and cited anonymous sources.
ABC News, which later followed NBC's reporting and said it confirmed the listening of phone calls, also corrected its story. The news organization also said federal agents had actually obtained a list of calls.
USA TODAY had reported the details of NBC's initial story Thursday.
The reports came in the aftermath of a raid on Cohen's office, home and hotel room last month where investigators obtained a slew of documents, including information pertaining to a payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress and producer.
The $130,000 was used to quiet her story about an alleged affair with Trump, which the president has denied. The payment is also at the center of a lawsuit by Daniels, in which she hopes to be freed from the non-disclosure agreement she agreed to just days before the 2016 presidential election.
Michael Avenatti, Daniels' attorney, speaking with MSNBC, said investigators got warrants because they feared the information could be destroyed. He said federal agents may have used that fear as a basis for obtaining search warrants to seize Cohen's property in the April raids.
Last month, prosecutors mentioned the possibility of records being deleted in a federal court filing.
Following five lines of redactions, prosecutors said, "As a result, absent a search warrant, these records could have been deleted without record, and without recourse for the law enforcement," the filing reads.
The same court filing, while discussing the lack of privileged attorney-client communications seized, also acknowledges multiple "covert" warrants that monitored Cohen's email accounts.
The filings do not mention wiretaps.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders referred questions about the wiretap to the President's outside counsel.
One of Trump's attorneys, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, told The Daily Beast that he didn't believe the reports of a wiretap, adding if it did turn out to be accurate, the wiretaps would be "totally illegal."
"Us lawyers have talked about it, we don’t believe it’s true,” Giuliani told the publication. “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."
He added the news has intensified hesitation about the possibility of Trump sitting down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
The new reports come just hours after Trump admitted to paying back Cohen for the now infamous hush payment to Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.
Trump had previously denied knowing about the payment.
The president said on Twitter Thursday the agreement was "used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair," adding it was not at all associated with his campaign.
While Trump and Giuliani, who first announced the payback on Fox News Wednesday evening, stressed that the Daniels money came from personal funds, legal analysts said it could be considered an in-kind campaign political contribution because it came right before the election.
That would make it subject to campaign finance laws, and Trump's team never reported the payment.
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