Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Prosecutors Ordered to Make Public Redacted Cohen Raid Documents

Prosecutors Ordered to Make Public Redacted Cohen Raid Documents

The US-Russia collusion probe was targeting the e-mails of President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen over his foreign contacts in July 2017 - long before his offices were raided previous year, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday.

The documents also revealed that Mr. Mueller's probe began in summer 2017, earlier than initially believed - and well before Trump nemesis Michael Avenatti claimed to have forced scrutiny over Cohen's payments to adult film stars.

This information was referred to federal prosecutors last February, who - two months later - executed warrants on Cohen's properties. For instance, one warrant sought historical location data for two AT&T cellphones that agents alleged were used in the course of a campaign-finance scheme.

Cohen concealed fees paid to Essential Consultants, a firm he controlled, including from worldwide clients with issues pending before the Trump administration. The documents also revealed that Robert Mueller's team were granted permission to review years of Michael Cohen's emails and online data during his time working for Donald Trump.

Cohen's first consulting client was Columbus Nova, an investment firm controlled by the Renova Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation search warrant application tied to last year's raids on Cohen's office, home and hotel room.

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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.

The revelation gives new illumination to Mueller's work throughout 2017 - before he had brought the bulk of his open criminal cases against defendants like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and a host of Russians for interfering in the election - and shows how extensively Mueller had tracked computer data of those close to then-candidate Trump and the early days of his presidency.

Cohen, who has been criticized for his unregistered foreign contacts and relationships, was never charged with failing to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). They sought permission to gather data for the period beginning October 1, 2016, and ending November 8, 2016 - the day of the presidential election - and then again for the period starting January 1, 2018, and ending with the warrant's issuance.

They were released after U.S. 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. Those portions include information surrounding Cohen's campaign finance crimes. Last month, he testified before a U.S. House of Representatives panel, calling Trump a "racist", "conman" and "cheat".

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

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