Less than a month after FBI agents raided the offices and hotel room of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen, NBC News reported Thursday that federal investigators monitored* Cohen's phone lines "in the weeks leading up to the raids" and intercepted at least one call with the White House.
"I think that ultimately it will be disclosed that the FBI learned of means by which Michael Cohen or others were potentially going to destroy or spoliate evidence or documentation."
—Michael Avenatti, attorney of Stormy Daniels
According to NBC, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the situation, Trump called Cohen following the FBI raids, but the president was told by his legal team not to call Cohen again.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer of adult film actress Stormy Daniels, suggested in an appearance on MSNBC Thursday that the alleged monitoring may have indicated Cohen was planning to destroy evidence, which compelled investigators to obtain search warrants and carry out the raids.
"I think that ultimately it will be disclosed that the FBI learned of means by which Michael Cohen or others were potentially going to destroy or spoliate evidence or documentation," Avenatti said. "Once they had that information in hand, that is what served as the predicate or the basis for them to be able to go in and get the warrants to search the home, the office, and the hotel room of Michael Cohen."
Stormy Daniels' attorney @MichaelAvenatti reacts to Cohen wiretap.— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 3, 2018
"I think ultimately it will be disclosed that during these wiretaps the FBI learned of means by which Michael Cohen was going to destroy ... evidence or documentation." pic.twitter.com/55vrt30jcQ
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The report comes on the heels of news that President Donald Trump reimbursed Cohen for his $130,000 pre-election hush payment to Daniels, which was first revealed by the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani in an interview on Fox News Wednesday night.
Legal experts argue that Trump's reimbursement of Cohen constitutes a clear violation of campaign finance law.
*Update/Correction: After its initial reporting, which used the word "wiretap" or "wiretapping" in several places, NBC News subsequently issued a correction to their reporting to say that while Cohen's phone was "monitored" by law enforcement agencies, an actual "wiretap" was not executed. According to NBC, the "feds are monitoring, not listening to" the phones of President Donald Trump's personal attorney.
Correction: Earlier today NBC News, and this reporter, said that Michael Cohen's phone lines were wiretapped. 3 Senior U.S. Officials now dispute that, saying the monitoring was limited to a log of calls (pen register) not a wiretap of Cohen's lines. We will continue to report.— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) May 3, 2018