Rudolph W. Giuliani said Sunday that President Trump is mentioned in about a dozen of the 183 recordings that were seized by federal prosecutors investigating Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. But Giuliani offered few details on the nature of the exchanges or the participants in the recordings that have not been made public.
The comments by Giuliani — the president’s lawyer handling the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian campaign interference and possible obstruction of justice — came days after Cohen’s legal team released a recording of a September 2016 conversation between Trump and Cohen that makes it appear that Trump was familiar with a deal model Karen McDougal made to sell the rights to her story of an alleged affair with him.
Giuliani told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that beyond the McDougal-related recording, “there are 12 others, maybe 11 or 12 others out of the 183, in which the president is discussed at any length by Cohen, mostly with reporters.”
Lanny Davis, an attorney and spokesman for Cohen, declined to comment.
Giuliani briefly described his view of some of those conversations, claiming that Cohen’s statements on them “take it right out of the campaign contribution arsenal” and could protect the president from being scrutinized for campaign finance law violations. But he did not offer evidence to back up those assertions.
“These are tapes I want you to read, I want you to hear them. I didn’t think I’d be able to get them out publicly,” Giuliani said. “I can’t do it. I mean, I’m not allowed to do it. We’ve not leaked a single tape.”
Cohen is under federal investigation in New York for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. FBI agents in April raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances.
Giuliani also said negotiations have momentarily paused with Mueller over a potential voluntary interview with the president.
“We have an outstanding offer to them,” Giuliani said, referencing a letter of suggested question areas that Trump’s lawyers have sent to Mueller. “They haven’t responded in about a week to 10 days. I don’t hold that against them. I think they’ve got a lot going on like we do.”
Giuliani declined to say “what the offer looks like except there is a sort of area of questioning and a group of restrictions on it that we could live with” on both Russian interference and the president’s conduct during the investigation.
As the two sides head toward a confrontation over a presidential interview, White House lawyer Emmet Flood and other Trump attorneys are strategizing about how to handle a subpoena from Mueller that would seek to compel Trump to testify.
Several White House officials said Flood has cautioned Trump and others about the unpredictability of a subpoena fight that could be decided by the Supreme Court. Such a case would be unprecedented. Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr served President Bill Clinton with a subpoena to compel him to appear before a grand jury, but it was withdrawn after Clinton agreed to testify voluntarily.
Carol Leonnig and Rosalind Helderman contributed to this report.