US authorities sought ex-Trump lawyer Cohen emails long before raids

US authorities sought ex-Trump lawyer Cohen emails long before raids

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, testifies before the House
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight Committee on his work for Trump. (Photo: AFP/Mandel Ngan)

NEW YORK: Federal authorities sought warrants to investigate Michael Cohen's email accounts in July 2017, nine months before the office and hotel room of US President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer were raided, according to documents made public on Tuesday (Mar 19).

Emails were sought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office, which is probing Russia's role in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as by the FBI, dating back as far as June 2015, according to the documents.

The nearly 900 pages of documents provide new insights into the investigations into Cohen, who had been Trump's personal lawyer and self-described fixer for more than a decade, and more detailed accounts of his financial dealings.

They were released after US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Monday ordered federal prosecutors to make redacted versions public, in response to requests by various news media organizations.

Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators soon after the April 2018 raids on his office and hotel room.

He eventually pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including campaign finance violations in connection with payments of hush money to silence two women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with Trump.

The women included Stormy Daniels, a porn actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who later sued Trump unsuccessfully to end her hush money agreement.

Cohen was sentenced in December to serve three years in prison. Since pleading guilty, he has publicly turned on Trump, telling a US House of Representatives committee last month that his former boss was a "con man" and "cheat."

Trump has denied having sexual relationships with the women, and said his campaign did not collude with Russia. Moscow has denied meddling in the 2016 election.

The filings showed how the FBI made extensive use of its access to Cohen's Apple iCloud account, which allowed him to coordinate his work across several devices including an iPhone, iPad Mini and laptop.

They detailed how investigators believed money going to Cohen, including to his firm Essential Consultants, was for political consulting, including from international clients with issues pending before the Trump administration.

Among the payments Cohen was believed to have received was US$600,000 from AT&T Inc for consulting about "political issues, including net neutrality, the merger between AT&T and Time Warner and tax reform," and US$583,333 from an investment firm controlled by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg.

FBI agents said they were able to locate where Cohen was staying by using internet protocol, or IP, addresses attached to those devices.

Much of the discussion about campaign finance issues was redacted.

Source: Reuters/nh

Bookmark