Chuck Ross, DCNF
MSNBC issued a massive on-air correction Thursday to an NBC News report the U.S. government has wiretapped Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer to President Donald Trump.
“Feds tapped Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s phones,” read the headline of the initial NBC News story.
At least one phone call Cohen had with someone at the White House was intercepted, according to the report. It was not clear when investigators began wiretapping Cohen, but NBC News reported it was in place in the weeks before FBI agents raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room in connection with an investigation into payments he made to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claimed to have had an affair with Trump.
But later Thursday, MSNBC ran a correction to the story.
“Correction: Feds are monitoring, not listening to Cohen’s calls,” read a chyron correcting the report.
Instead of a wiretap, investigators obtained what’s known as a pen register warrant, reporter Tom Winter said. That allows investigators to obtain information about calls placed to and from a particular phone such as phone numbers and phone-call length.
Three U.S. law enforcement officials provided the correct details of the warrant against Cohen, Winter said. Winter’s initial sources were described as “two people with knowledge of the legal proceedings involving Cohen.”
It was “a fact” investigators had a wiretap on Cohen, Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, claimed — hours before MSNBC’s correction.
“I don’t think we’re going to find out that this was confined just to email or voice wiretaps. My understanding is that they were also wiretapping text message communications for the weeks leading up to the FBI raids,” Avenatti said on MSNBC, where he appears frequently.
“I’m not speculating; that’s a fact,” he added.
Avenatti believed investigators obtained information from the wiretap suggesting Cohen planned to destroy evidence relevant to the case, Daniels’ lawyer told MSNBC. And because of that, he said investigators decided to carry out a raid of his properties.
“I also think that it will ultimately be disclosed that during these wiretaps, the FBI learned of means by which Michael Cohen and others were going to potentially destroy or spoliate evidence or documentation,” Avenatti continued.
“That’s what served as the predicate or the basis for them to be able to go in and get the warrant to search the home, the office and the hotel room of Michael Cohen.”
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