Special Counsel Robert Mueller obtained the first of three search warrants for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s email accounts in July 2017, much earlier than previously known.
According to court documents unsealed on Tuesday, Mueller’s office sought evidence of money laundering, bank fraud and that Cohen acted as an unregistered foreign agent.
U.S. District Court Beryl Howell granted the warrants. The first was granted on July 18, 2017, two months after Mueller was appointed special counsel.
Mueller’s office on Feb. 8, 2018 handed over some of the seized material to prosecutors in Manhattan who were investigating Cohen over various financial crimes. Prosecutors there executed search warrants on Cohen’s home, hotel room and office on April 9, 2018.
The former Trump fixer pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2018 to bank fraud, tax evasion and making an illegal campaign contribution in the form of a payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.
Cohen pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe on Nov. 29, 2018 to making false statements to Congress regarding the extent of his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen testified in 2017 that he ended those negotiations in January 2016, before the start of the Republican presidential primaries. In his plea, Cohen admitted he continued working to build the Russian skyscraper through June 2016.
Mueller’s search warrants sought information from two of Cohen’s Gmail accounts and another account by a company called 1&1 Internet, Inc. The first warrant sought information stretching back to Jan. 1, 2016.
Cohen will begin serving a three year prison sentence on May 6.
Mueller’s search for evidence that Cohen acted as a foreign agent is perhaps the most intriguing revelation in the heavily redacted documents. Mueller’s investigation, which began on May 17, 2017, initially focused on whether Trump associates conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election. Cohen is accused in the Steele dossier of visiting Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russian officials regarding the hacking of Democrats’ emails.
Cohen has not faced any charges related to collusion or acting as a foreign agent. He took on several foreign clients after Trump won the election, but there is no evidence that he worked directly for foreign governments.
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