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    07.30.18 Professor Miriam Baer Discusses Trump-Cohen Tape with CBS News
    Professor Miriam Baer

    Professor Miriam Baer, an expert in white collar crime and criminal law, spoke with CBS News about the legal implications of a recently released tape recording between President Donald Trump and his longtime attorney Michael Cohen.

    Appearing in a July 25 segment airing on “Red & Blue,” Baer, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, discussed with Tanya Rivero what could be discerned from the tape regarding alleged “hush money” paid to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, and what it could mean for both Trump and Cohen.

    Baer compared listening the tape to “catching the middle episode of one of your favorite television programs” without having seen the beginning or the end. “You’re trying your best to figure out what already occurred and what’s going to happen next,” she said.

    Although it is clear from the tape that a payment had been made from AMI, parent company of the National Enquirer—referred to on the tape as “our friend David”—to McDougal, Baer said it’s impossible to know if Michael Cohen then turned around and paid AMI: “What we hear is about the possibility of paying David, and the means and methods of paying David, but we really don’t know for sure whether that payment was ever made.”

    Baer also addressed the legality of the tape itself: “Our state law is called one party consent. I only need to consent myself to record a conversation with you. There are ethical issues in the state of New York about taping your client, but that’s a different issue,” she said.

    Does the release of the tape mean Cohen is cooperating? Baer doesn’t think it likely that he’s signed an agreement at this stage: “That’s not to say his attorneys are not discussing the potential possibility of him cooperating. If you’re cooperating in a criminal case, you must admit everything you’ve done that’s wrong—bank fraud, tax fraud, any kind of violations you’ve committed—it can be completely unrelated to Trump. And the government has to be assured that you’re telling the truth and you’re not minimizing your conduct. All that takes time.”

    At the Law School, Baer is associate director of the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation and teaches in the areas of corporate law, white collar crime, criminal law, and criminal procedure. She has been a frequent commentator on legal issues related to the Mueller investigation.

    Watch the CBS News segment about the Cohen tape here