Michael Cohen Denies Existence of Trump ‘Elevator Tape’ – or That Other Tape

Cohen aired lots of dirty laundry, but denied knowledge of “any videotapes that might be the subject of extortion or blackmail”

Last Updated: February 27, 2019 @ 1:22 PM

Former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen told Congress on Wednesday that while he hid lots of secrets for his boss, he knew nothing about two videos that could be devastating to the president — if they exist.

Cohen’s testimony brought discussion of two never-proven videos — the so-called “elevator tape” and “golden showers” tape — into full public view. But in a win for Trump, Cohen said he did not believe they are real, even as he recited a slew of other accusations against his former boss.

Cohen said under questioning from Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, that he has heard rumors of a tape in which Trump supposedly struck his wife Melania in a Trump Tower elevator, and that the video was sold to an unknown buyer at auction. But he denied it was real.

“Actually I’m certain it’s not true,” Cohen said. “I don’t believe that auction was real and… don’t believe Mr. Trump ever struck Mrs. Trump, ever.”

Until now, news outlets have attempted legalistic write-arounds to explain what is said to be on the elevator tape — if there is a tape. Here’s an example from last July, in The Huffington Post.

The rumors vary from journalist to journalist, but the common understanding is that somewhere out there, a tape might exist of Trump doing something in an elevator, though exactly where that somewhere is and what that something might be, no one in media can say. That’s because no one in media seems to have seen the tape — or is even confident it exists.

Reporters have also sought the so-called “Golden Showers” tape since former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele referred to it in the so-called Steele Dossier. The document cited an unnamed source who contended that Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had once slept in at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.

No one has ever proven the tape to be anything but an anti-Trump fantasy. Trump has mocked it, joking that he is too much of a germaphobe to ever be involved in such a thing. But the concept of the tape endures in comedy routines and conspiracy theories.

BuzzFeed was first to report on the accusation, which most mainstream news media outlets have avoided because of its total lack of substantiation.

That may explain the scant news coverage on Tuesday of the delicate dance performed by Cohen and Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, as they struggled to discuss the possible existence of the video without getting into detail. (A PBS video that includes the exchange, posted above, has fewer than 300 views as of this writing.)

“Are you aware of anything that the president has done at home or abroad that may have subjected him to or may subject him to extortion or blackmail,” Raskin asked.

“I am not, no,” Cohen replied.

“Are you aware of any videotapes that might be the subject of extortion or blackmail?” Raskin asked.

“I’ve heard about these tapes for a long time. I’ve had many people contact me over the years. I have no reason to believe that that tape exists,” Cohen said.

In June 2018, comedian Tom Arnold posed for a picture with Cohen and told NBC News that Cohen “has all the tapes.” He was promoting his Viceland show “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes,” which tracked Arnold’s failure to locate any tapes damaging to Trump. Cohen denied at the time that he had spoken to Arnold about anything significant, and said they had run into each other by chance.

In a lengthy interview with TheWrap’s “Shoot This Now” podcast in November, we pressed Arnold on what he knew about the tapes, and he was unable to prove anything. You can listen to it on Apple or right here, starting around the 10:30 mark:

Conservative lawmakers spent most of their question time on Wednesday trying to undermine Cohen’s credibility. They noted that he faced a prison sentence in part for lying to Congress before.

But at least two conservative outlets addressed Cohen’s denial of one bit of purported dirty laundry.

“COHEN: ‘I HAVE NO REASON TO BELIEVE’ TRUMP PEE TAPE EXISTS,” said the Daily Caller headline.

“Michael Cohen: ‘I have no reason to believe’ Trump golden showers tape exists,” read the Examiner headline.