Michael Cohen denied in a secretly recorded phone call with actor Tom Arnold that he committed some of the crimes to which he has pleaded guilty.
Arnold, a critic of President Trump, told the Wall Street Journal he recorded the 36-minute conversation without Cohen’s knowledge.
“There is no tax evasion,” Trump’s former longtime lawyer said on the call. “It’s a lie.”
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to evading personal income taxes, understating his debt and expenses on an application for a home equity line of credit, and campaign finance violations for hush-money payments to women alleging they had affairs with Trump. The president has denied having sex with the women.
At his sentencing hearing in December, Cohen said he took “full responsibility for each act that I plead guilty to.” He is scheduled to report to prison May 6.
In the phone call, Cohen also questioned how investigators had found any issues with the home equity line of credit application.
“They had me on campaign finance,” he told Arnold.
Cohen suggested he pleaded guilty to all of the charges to protect his wife. Cohen failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service that he had received more than $2.4 million in interest payments from loans, some of which had been put into an account under his wife’s name, according to prosecutors.
“I love this woman, and I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap,” Cohen said. “And I never thought the judge was going to throw a three-year fricking sentence.”
Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, said Trump’s former fixer has taken responsibility for his actions.
“While he cannot change the past, he is making every effort to reclaim his life and do right by his family and country. He meant no offense by his statements,” Davis said.
Arnold has been on a yearslong quest to search for incriminating evidence against Trump, including an alleged tape of prostitutes peeing on his hotel room bed in Moscow and Trump allegedly using the N-word during unaired footage of "The Apprentice." He stared in an eight-episode series for Viceland called "The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold."
In June 2017, Arnold tweeted a photo of himself with Cohen, saying the two were teaming up to take down Trump. The actor later walked back that statement after Cohen denied it.
Arnold said he called Cohen in March to give him moral support before he heads to prison.