Stormy Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti have been cleverly using a lawsuit against Donald Trump and Michael Cohen in order to force evidence to the surface that can be used by prosecutors in criminal cases against Trump and Cohen. Today Avenatti hit the jackpot when he backed Cohen’s attorney into a corner and forced him to admit that Cohen has been tape recording his conversations with Trump for years. So now what?
Two things immediately stand out here, based on the statement that Avenatti gave to assembled reporters and then posted on Twitter. The first is that Cohen has been taping his conversations with Trump for “years.” This means Cohen didn’t merely start doing this after Trump’s scandals started blowing up; he’s been doing it all along. The most logical reason for this would be to give himself an insurance policy in case he ever got busted for his role in Trump’s criminal schemes. In other words, considering that Cohen was Trump’s down-and-dirty fixer, these tapes probably prove everything.
The second thing that stands out here is that Avenatti says Cohen has the tapes under “lock and key.” Does this mean that the tapes in question were not discovered and seized when the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office? Even if that’s the case, it may not matter for long, because this admission changes everything when it comes to how these tapes will be handled.
Michael Avenatti hinted on Twitter last week that there were in fact tapes of Cohen and Trump, but now that he’s gotten Cohen’s attorney to admit as much, it changes the ballgame. At this point the judge in the civil case can order Cohen to turn over the tapes to Avenatti as part of the discovery process. From there, nothing would stop Avenatti from turning over the tapes to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for the purposes of criminal prosecution.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report