Cohen says he pleaded guilty to crimes he didn't commit
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump's prison-bound former lawyer told actor Tom Arnold last month he pleaded guilty to some crimes he didn't commit so his wife wouldn't "get dragged into the mud of this crap."
Michael Cohen told Arnold "they had me on campaign finance" for arranging hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, but denied committing tax evasion and called a crime related to a home equity line of credit "a lie."
He also complained in the March 25 call that he felt abandoned and tossed aside – like "a man all alone" – after giving more than 100 hours of interviews and testimony to federal investigators and congressional committees.
Arnold said he recorded the 36-minute call without Cohen's knowledge because Cohen was known to record conversations and that he wanted to remember what they discussed. Arnold provided a copy to The Wall Street Journal, which reported on it and posted audio excerpts on its website today.
It's unclear where Arnold was when he made the recording. If he was in California, he could face legal scrutiny because the state requires consent from both parties on the call. If he was in New York, he's in the clear. That state only requires one party's consent.
Cohen met Arnold in June 2018 in what he described as a "chance, public encounter" in the lobby of a Manhattan hotel where Cohen was staying while his apartment was being repaired. Cohen said that Arnold asked to take a selfie .
The meeting happened about two months after the FBI raided Cohen's hotel room and home and about two weeks before he publicly declared he was splitting from Trump, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy."
Arnold, who hosted a Viceland series last year in which he investigated rumored recordings of Trump, told the Journal he made the recent call to Cohen to follow up on their meeting and to offer him moral support.
Arnold's representatives did not immediately respond to an interview request.