While the Trump-Cohen tape demonstrates President Donald Trump may not have been truthful, the consensus among legal experts from across the political spectrum concludes no crime was committed. The low-quality and edited tape, which is a conversation secretly recorded by Michael Cohen, was obtained by CNN.
Liberal Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University acknowledges there are reportedly more tapes, and that “this tape has good and bad elements for the Trump team,” this tape does not reveal “a clear crime.”
“Clearly, both sides can read negative or positive elements into this tape,” he opined. “While some have insisted that Trump sounds like a mobster, there is not a clear crime being discussed on this tape.”
However, Professor Turley did believe the tape could be used to show President Trump was informed of the deal before the election and participated in a strategy to silence his alleged former mistress Karen McDougal, known in the porn industry as Stormy Daniels.
Liberal Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz also told “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning the tape amounts to a “big deal about nothing.”
“The end result is no payments were made, no cash was given,” Professor Dershowitz said. “There’s no crime here. There’s no impeachable offense here.”
He went on to say Mr. Cohen “shouldn’t have recorded this.”
President Trump took to Twitter to imply just that.
“What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?” he tweeted. “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!”
What kind of a 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018
But the former businessman’s lawyer isn’t known for traditional practice, but rather as a for-hire fixer. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in April raided Mr. Cohen’s office and workplaces. The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr. Cohen was supposedly under investigation for campaign finance violations and bank fraud. But Mr. Mueller’s critics say he and the partisan district office in New York are simply using Mr. Cohen to obtain embarrassing material.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney and former federal prosecutor, claimed the remainder of the recording was “exculpatory from the point of view of the president.” He also said the president’s legal team listened to the tape numerous times and determined that the then-candidate said, “Don’t pay with cash.”
“Cohen then interrupts,” Mr. Giuliani told Laura Ingraham, host of “The Ingraham Angle” on Tuesday night. “And says, “No, no, no, I got it.’ And then you hear — distinctly … if you’re careful and you slow (the tape) it down — ‘check.’ And then Cohen follows with ‘No, no, no,’ and then quickly cuts off the tape.”
CNN conceded in their original story that the secretly recorded tape is not a smoking gun.
“Trump is heard saying ‘pay with cash’ but the audio is muddled and it’s unclear whether he suggests paying with cash or not paying,” CNN wrote. ‘Cohen says, “no, no’ but it is not clear what is said next.”
However, when reviewed multiple times by PPD, it appears that either Mr. Cohen or his then-client and candidate did say “check” after the former’s apparent admission that cash wasn’t an option.
COHEN: All the stuff. Because — here, you never know where that company — you never know what he’s —
TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So, I’m all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be —
TRUMP: Wait a sec, what financing?
COHEN: Well, I’ll have to pay him something.
TRUMP: [MUFFLED but sounds like “Don’t”] pay with cash.
COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it.