Michael Cohen was known to record his conversations -- and that could be a 'gold mine' for investigators after the FBI raided his home and office this week

  • Michael Cohen was known to keep digital recordings of his conversations with associates, and those files may be among the materials that FBI agents confiscated during a raid at Cohen's home and office this week.
  • The Washington Post cited people familiar with Cohen's work and allies of President Donald Trump who said Cohen, Trump's longtime personal attorney, kept digital files of his conversations and sometimes played them back for colleagues.
  • People close to Trump are wondering exactly who Cohen recorded and what those conversations entailed.
  • The revelation adds a new dimension to Cohen's legal troubles, because he may be called to testify against his own clients, including Trump.

Michael Cohen reportedly kept digital recordings of his conversations with associates, several people familiar with the practice told The Washington Post on Thursday. He sometimes played back the recordings for colleagues.

Cohen is President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney. Cohen's home and office were raided by the FBI this week as part of an investigation into his dealings with clients.

People familiar with Cohen's tendency to digitally record his conversations say they're worried about who he may have recorded, what the conversations on those recordings entail, and whether the FBI is in possession of them.

The Monday raid on Cohen's properties reportedly focused on dealings between Cohen and his clients — including Trump — which may include Cohen's efforts to suppress negative publicity surrounding Trump around the time of the 2016 US election.

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Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen
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Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

(Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Cohen's $130,000 payment to an adult-film actress who said she had sex with Trump is also part of that investigation. According an earlier Washington Post report, Cohen is the subject of an investigation into bank fraud and violations of campaign-finance law, among other things.

Cohen's attorneys filed a motion on Thursday to pause proceedings related to a lawsuit filed by the porn star Stormy Daniels, who is suing her way out of a 2016 nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange for that $130,000 payment. The filing says that Cohen would be forced to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating himself because the facts of the case involving the porn star overlap with the "ongoing criminal investigation" surrounding Cohen.

Recordings could add a new dimension to Cohen's legal troubles

"If you are looking for evidence, you can't do any better than people talking on tape," former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman told The Post.

Referring to the alleged recordings, Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor told the newspaper: "The significance is 9.5 to 10 on a 10-point scale."

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Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel raided by FBI
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Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel raided by FBI
Police and security stand outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the location for the offices of U.S. President Donald Tump's lawyer Michael Cohen which was raided by the F.B.I. today in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 9: Thirty Rockefeller Plaza is shown where FBI officials reportedly raided the offices of Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in Midtown Manhattan April 9, 2018 in New York City. Cohen worked at Squire Patton Boggs, but the firm said today it had severed ties with him following the raid. Federal prosecutors in New York City obtained a search warrant following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the FBI raid at his lawyer Michael Cohen's office, while receiving a briefing from senior military leaders regarding Syria, in the Cabinet Room, on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen on Monday as part of the ongoing investigation into the president's administration. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 9: Thirty Rockefeller Plaza is shown where FBI officials reportedly raided the offices of Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in Midtown Manhattan April 9, 2018 in New York City. Cohen worked at Squire Patton Boggs, but the firm said today it had severed ties with him following the raid. Federal prosecutors in New York City obtained a search warrant following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 9: Thirty Rockefeller Plaza is shown where FBI officials reportedly raided the offices of Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in Midtown Manhattan April 9, 2018 in New York City. Cohen worked at Squire Patton Boggs, but the firm said today it had severed ties with him following the raid. Federal prosecutors in New York City obtained a search warrant following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: U.S. President Donald Trump is flanked by National Security Advisor John Bolton as he speaks about the FBI raid at his lawyer Michael Cohen's office, while receiving a briefing from senior military leaders regarding Syria, in the Cabinet Room, on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen on Monday as part of the ongoing investigation into the president's administration. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 9: Thirty Rockefeller Plaza is shown where FBI officials reportedly raided the offices of Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in Midtown Manhattan April 9, 2018 in New York City. Cohen worked at Squire Patton Boggs, but the firm said today it had severed ties with him following the raid. Federal prosecutors in New York City obtained a search warrant following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 9: Thirty Rockefeller Plaza is shown where FBI officials reportedly raided the offices of Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in Midtown Manhattan April 9, 2018 in New York City. Cohen worked at Squire Patton Boggs, but the firm said today it had severed ties with him following the raid. Federal prosecutors in New York City obtained a search warrant following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A man enters 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the location for the offices of U.S. President Donald Tump's lawyer Michael Cohen which was raided by the F.B.I. today in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the FBI raid at his lawyer Michael Cohen's office, while receiving a briefing from senior military leaders regarding Syria, in the Cabinet Room, on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen on Monday as part of the ongoing investigation into the president's administration. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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"When people speak on the phone, they are not guarded. They don't imagine that the conversation will surface," Gillers said.

If agents indeed took possession of any attorney-client recordings from Cohen, they would first be subject to a separate Justice Department review to protect attorney-client privilege and to ensure they are germane to the terms of the search warrant.

Communications between an attorney and their clients are normally privileged, except when those communications were used to commit a crime or act of fraud, or with the intent to do the same. That exception applies regardless of whether the attorney or the client is the one accused of criminal conduct.

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SEE ALSO: Mueller has reportedly decided to move forward without an interview with Trump

DON'T MISS: Michael Cohen could eventually be called to testify against Trump — and that could be a big problem for the president

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