NEWS
05/03/2018 14:57 EDT | Updated 05/03/2018 18:16 EDT

NBC, ABC Say Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Was Not Wiretapped, Issue Corrections

Cohen has been in the middle of the scandal swirling around Stormy Daniels.

NBC News and ABC News are walking back earlier reports that claimed federal investigators had wiretapped President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

NBC first reported on Thursday that feds in New York City had conducted surveillance on Cohen's phone lines via wiretapping "in the weeks leading up to the search warrant that occurred several weeks ago," referring to federal authorities raiding his home, hotel room and office in April.

Hours later, NBC News issued a correction on air, saying Cohen was not wiretapped, citing three senior U.S. officials. ABC News issued a correction as well.

Federal officials were reportedly actually monitoring Cohen using a device known as a pen register. A pen register is a device that logs phone numbers or Internet addresses that have been contacted.

Cohen has been embroiled in a legal battle stemming from a $130,000 "hush money" payment he made to silence Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who allegedly had an affair with Trump.

NBC had reported that one of the phone calls intercepted was "between the White House and one of the phone lines associated with Michael Cohen."

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's new lawyer overseeing matters in the Russia investigation, was reportedly "furious" about the initial report, according to The Washington Post's Robert Costa.

Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Thursday that he and the other lawyers on Trump's legal team didn't believe Cohen was wiretapped.

"We think it's going to turn out to be untrue because it would be totally illegal," Giuliani said. "You can't wiretap a lawyer, you certainly can't wiretap his client who's not involved in the investigation. No one has suggested that Trump was involved in that investigation. So they're going to wiretap the lawyer, his client, and his client, the president of the United States? I don't think so, not if they want to stay out of jail."

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said the report of wiretapping indicated Trump and his team "have every reason to be concerned at this point."

"I find it very ironic that now that [Giuliani is] serving as the right-hand lawyer for the president, he doesn't believe in wiretaps," Avenatti said on MSNBC. "Of course he got angry on the phone. The reason is because he understands he has an undisciplined client in Mr. Trump and there's any number of things that may be found on those wiretaps or those recordings between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen. So they have every reason to be concerned at this point."

AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, centre, leaves the US Courthouse in New York on April 26, 2018.

Giuliani said Wednesday that Trump paid back the $130,000 to Cohen, contradicting the president's prior attempts to distance himself from Cohen and his claim that he didn't know about the payment.

This article has been updated throughout to reflect story developments throughout Wednesday, including NBC's on-air correction stating Cohen's phone was not being wiretapped.

Hayley Miller contributed reporting.