Trump slams NBC after it mistakenly reported that his lawyer's phones were wiretapped

  • President Donald Trump came down hard on NBC News on Friday morning after it admitted some of its reporting had been wrong.
  • The network published, and then retracted, a story in which anonymous sources said Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had his phones tapped.
  • Legal experts immediately found the story unlikely, and NBC News retracted its bold claim a short while later.
  • Trump pounced on the opportunity to blast the common practice of citing anonymous sources in journalism, and bashed much of the mainstream media.


President Donald Trump came down hard on NBC News on Friday morning after it reported, and then retracted, a claim about one of his close associates.

The network published a story the previous day quoting anonymous sources who said Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had his phones tapped. It withdrew the claim not long afterward.

"Feds tapped Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen's phones," the NBC News headline read.

As soon as the story broke, experts expressed skepticism.

"Wiretaps are difficult to get. Applications require multiple layers of review, including by career lawyers in Washington, plus approval by a district court judge (not magistrate).

"Also they signify proof of an ongoing crime. And you don't tap a President's attorney lightly," former US attorney Preet Bharara tweeted in response to the story.

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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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NBC News corrected the story shortly after US officials pushed back on the reporting, explaining that "monitoring of Cohen's phones was limited to a log of calls, known as a pen register, not a wiretap where investigators can actually listen to calls."

The morning after the mix up, Trump let NBC News have it:

Trump is currently involved in a multi-faceted legal battle that has recently turned into an investigation into whether or not he used campaign funds to pay porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair before the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen, whom Trump said handled the business with the actress, has emerged as a central figure in the investigation.

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