How Prosecutors Narrowed In On Michael Cohen's Crimes — TIMELINE

Saul Bowman
March 21, 2019

A search warrant connected to President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen shows the FBI investigated him for nearly a year.

The judge ordered prosecutors to redact Cohen's personal information and details in the warrant that refer to ongoing investigations and several third-parties who have cooperated with the inquiry.

It was a stunning story in April 2018 when federal investigators searched locations associated with Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, seizing a trove of more than 4 million electronic and paper files.

The warrants describe Cohen's false statements to financial institutions about the objective of Essential Consultants - Cohen's firm that took payments from AT&T, Novartis and the Russian national - as well as "activities undertaken by Cohen on behalf of certain foreign persons or foreign entities without having registered as a foreign agent", one of the documents says.

Cohen concealed fees paid to Essential Consultants, a firm he controlled, including from global clients with issues pending before the Trump administration.

Cohen has since pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, which he says Trump directed, and other charges.

Cohen was ultimately not charged with failing to register as a foreign agent.

February 8, 2018: The special counsel "referred certain aspects of its investigation into Cohen" to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, "which is working with the FBI's NY field office".

July 18, 2017: Federal Bureau of Investigation agents sought and obtained a search warrant from U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., for all emails sent or received from Cohen's Gmail account between January 1, 2016 and July 18, 2017. That same day agents also executed a search warrant for a safe-deposit box used by Cohen.

Both Cohen and Trump cried foul over the raids, with Cohen's attorney at the time calling them "completely inappropriate and unnecessary" and the president taking to Twitter to declare that "Attorney-client privilege is dead!"

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, said the release of the search warrant "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". The agent did not indicate why the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not have access to Cohen's Trump Organization records. The FBI raided the room soon after.

That period included the first few months of Trump's presidency, as well as much of the 2016 campaign.

The documents are redacted in significant measure.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison by Pauley in December for multiple crimes, including campaign finance violations stemming from payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate in 2016 that were created to silence women who claimed affairs with then-candidate Trump. He has also admitted to lying to Congress.

Hundreds of pages of redacted search warrants and other documents were unsealed Tuesday per a February ruling by a USA district judge.

Cohen cooperated - partially - with federal prosecutors in NY, as well as with Mueller, in hopes of reducing the amount of prison time he would have to serve.

"Last month, Cohen told a congressional committee that he believes Trump is a racist, a con man and a cheat".

Cohen is scheduled to begin a three-year prison term on May 6.

This article was written by Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind Helderman and Devlin Barrett, reporters for The Washington Post.

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