Special counsel Robert Mueller obtained court-approved warrants to search the emails of President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen in July 2017 as his office investigated whether Cohen had illegally worked for foreign entities, according to newly unsealed documents illustrating how the investigation moved quickly and quietly to scour the digital trails of the president's associates. The latter included paying hush money to silence two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
The other line of inquiry was into Cohen's potential connection to companies with foreign ties.
Mueller's justification for those warrants were "several different courses of conduct by Cohen, including, among other things, false statements to financial institutions relating to the goal of an account he opened in the name of Essential Consultants LLC and the nature of funds flowing into that account, and activities undertaken by Cohen on behalf of certain foreign persons or foreign entities without having registered as a foreign agent", an FBI investigator wrote to a judge, piggybacking on Mueller's pursuit.
The warrants show that federal agents sought information from Cohen's Gmail account, as well as an account he set up for his legal and consulting work.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents said they used a device to track down Cohen's location in April 2018.
Cohen concealed fees paid to Essential Consultants, a firm he controlled, including from global clients with issues pending before the Trump administration.
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Cohen is scheduled to report to prison in May. Prosecutors were looking into whether Cohen failed to register as a foreign agent.
A court-ordered review ultimately found only a fraction of the seized material to be privileged. But he authorized the release of details in the warrant that relate to Cohen's tax evasion and false statements to financial institutions charges, along with Cohen's conduct that did not result in criminal charges. Moscow has denied meddling in the 2016 election.
Michael Cohen raked in more than $3 million in consulting fees following President Trump's election, including almost $600,000 from an investment firm tied to a since-sanctioned Russian oligarch, according to court papers made public on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan ordered federal prosecutors to file redacted versions of the documents, which had been sealed, on Tuesday. Mueller's team then handed over that data to the Manhattan federal prosecutors.
According to the court papers, authorities were eyeing Cohen for multiple crimes, including bank fraud and making illegal campaign contributions in the 2016 cycle. Trump publicly declared that Cohen would never betray him and chafed at the raid, tweeting "Attorney-client privilege is dead!"
The president's former lawyer and fixer, who has pleaded guilty to an array of crimes that he's been sentenced to three years in prison over, has been cooperating with Mueller.