Warrants show FBI was probing Michael Cohen long before raid

FAN Editor

FBI began investigating Michael Cohen in 2017

A search warrant and supporting affidavits that led to the search of former Trump attorney and personal fixer Michael Cohen’s home and office were released on Tuesday. CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that the over 200-page long document reveals that Special Counsel Robert Mueller first obtained search warrants for three of Cohen’s email accounts before moving on to pursue raids of his home and office.

The release provides extensive detail about Cohen’s financial crimes, but a section detailing Cohen’s campaign finance violations is completely redacted.

Read the documents here:

Highlights from the warrant release:

  • Feds searched at least 3 email accounts for data going back to 2015: Before federal investigators went after his home and office, they pursued Cohen’s email accounts, at least 3 of which they obtained search warrants for in order to search online data going back all the way to 2015 during Cohen’s time at the Trump Organization. 
  • FBI started investigating Cohen nearly a year before raid: According to documents, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office started collecting Cohen’s emails in July 2017, nearly a year before the FBI conducted its raid on Cohen’s office and home.  Mueller’s team started providing evidence to the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in February 2018. 
  • Stormy Daniels payments heavily redacted: Sections on Cohen’s payments to women that alleged affairs with Mr. Trump, including adult film star Stormy Daniels, were significantly redacted in the document release. 
  • Investigators searched numerous Cohen devices: The warrant shows that investigators searched several of Cohen’s personal devices including an Apple Ipad, cell phone and Mac laptop. This led investigators to file a search warrant for Cohen’s Apple iCloud data. 

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement to CBS News that the court-ordered release “only furthers his interest in continuing to cooperate and providing information and the truth about Donald Trump and the Trump organization to law enforcement and Congress.”

Davis said that the search in April of last year was conducted on Cohen’s home, office, hotel and safety deposit box. 

On Monday, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III ordered that redacted versions of the documents be released. Pauley sentenced Cohen to three years in prison in December for crimes including lying to Congress and paying two women to stay silent about affairs they claimed to have had with Trump.

Cohen, who is scheduled to report to prison in May, recently testified before Congress about his dealings with Mr. Trump over the past decade. It was during those appearances that Cohen provided lawmakers with documentation of Mr. Trump’s questionable business practices, including a copy of a $35,000 check Mr. Trump made out to Cohen from his personal bank account to pay off adult film star Stephanie Clifford, to avoid any money being traced back to the president and the campaign. 

Pauley ruled last month that some parts of the search warrant documents can remain secret because making them public could jeopardize ongoing investigations. Those portions include information surrounding Cohen’s campaign finance crimes.

The judge said prosecutors can disclose portions of materials related to Cohen’s tax evasion and false statements to financial institutions charges, along with Cohen’s conduct that did not result in criminal charges.

CBS News’ Paula Reid and Emily Tillett contributed to this report. 

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