Robert Mueller persuaded a judge within weeks of being made special counsel that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s legal fixer, may have been secretly working for a foreign government.
Legal filings unsealed on Tuesday said investigators working for Mueller were granted access to Cohen’s personal email account on 18 July 2017 on the basis that he may have broken several laws, including those on unregistered foreign agents.
Cohen’s suspected efforts were not detailed in the documents. Cohen, one of Trump’s closest advisers for a decade, was paid in early 2017 for consulting work by a state-controlled South Korean aviation company and a private bank in Kazakhstan.
But the filings said the investigators were looking in Cohen’s Gmail account for records on any “funds or benefits” he received from foreign governments or companies, as well as any files revealing efforts by Cohen to work on their behalf.
The court documents were released by a federal judge in New York, where Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance and personal financial crimes. They were originally filed by investigators in April last year to obtain additional search warrants. It was not previously known that Cohen was suspected of crimes relating to representing foreigners without registering.
More than 19 pages, apparently relating to the campaign finance scheme, were entirely blacked out in the version of the documents released on Tuesday, indicating that it remains under investigation.
Cohen directly implicated Trump in the scheme, which involved hush-money payments to women who alleged during the 2016 campaign that they had affairs with Trump.
The documents released on Tuesday also gave a rare glimpse of the early actions taken by Mueller’s office in the weeks after his appointment as special counsel on 17 May 2017, following the president’s firing of James Comey, the FBI director.
They showed Mueller’s team secured another search warrant for Cohen’s Apple iCloud account on 8 August 2017, the filings said, and then obtained two more search warrants in November 2017 for two additional email accounts used by Cohen.
Mueller’s team passed some of its findings, which did not relate to their central investigation, up to Justice Department colleagues in New York. FBI agents then raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and storage facility in search of evidence.
Mueller’s investigation, which appears to be drawing to a conclusion, has roiled Trump’s first term in office and led to the criminal convictions of a series of former Trump advisers. It has also led to the indictment of more than two-dozen Russians for interfering in the 2016 US election campaign.
This article provided by NewsEdge.