WASHINGTON - Federal investigators reportedly monitored the phone lines of Michael Cohen, the lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump who is at the center of the scandal involving payments to a porn star with whom Trump allegedly had an affair before the 2016 election.
NBC News initially reported on Thursday that Cohen's phones were wiretapped weeks before law enforcement agencies raided his office and hotel room in Manhattan and collected evidence relating to the secret 2016 payment. The media outlet later clarified that authorities merely used a machine to monitor his phone. The machine, known as a pen register, records the numbers of the phones that made and receive the calls, but does not record any contents, according to the report.
Cohen has provided legal services to Trump for years, long before Trump chose to enter politics and run for the presidency. In recent weeks, however, Trump has tried to publicly diminish the importance of their relationship in an attempt to distance himself from the scandal involving Cohen's secret payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
Cohen admitted to making a $130,000 payment to the porn star, who said that she had sex once with Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet about it. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Wednesday that Trump reimbursed Cohen for that payment.
The NBC report stated that on at least one occasion, the monitoring led to a call being logged between a number associated with Cohen and a number associated with the White House. It did not clearly say if that call involved the president himself or someone else working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
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The same report said that Giuliani, who recently joined Trump's legal defense team, learned after taking on the job that Trump made calls to Cohen's office. He asked the president to refrain from doing so in the future out of concern that the content of these calls could end up in the hands of law enforcement agencies.
The report did not receive official confirmation from any government agencies thus far.