New York, March 20: Special counsel Robert Mueller began investigating US President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for fraud in his personal business dealings and for potentially acting as an unregistered foreign agent close to a year before FBI agents in New York raided his home and office. This detail has emerged after a series of documents relating to US President Donald trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen’s arrest were released on Tuesday.
The series of heavily redacted search warrant applications and other documents revealed new details about the timing and depth of the probe into Cohen, who was slapped with multiple charges last year. Cohen has plead guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress and has been sentenced to three years in jail.
The documents show that Michael Cohen became a subject of interest since July 2017 — far longer than previously known— and that a big part of the focus of investigating agencies was Cohen's taxi businesses and misrepresentations he made to banks as part of a scheme to relieve himself of some $22 million in debt he owed on taxi licence loans.
Prosecutors also noted foreign funds flowing into Cohen's bank accounts after Donald Trump became president. Some of those payments were from companies with strong foreign ties, including a Korean aerospace company and Columbus Nova, an investment management firm affiliated with Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. But, Cohen was ultimately not charged with failing to register as a foreign agent.
Many sections of the documents dealing with the campaign-finance violations Cohen committed allegedly on Trump’s behest to buy the silence of former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels about alleged affairs they had with Trump, were redacted. Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to financial institutions and campaign-finance violations stemming from the hush-money payments he arranged for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
Cohen implicated Trump in his guilty plea, saying the president directed him to make the payments during his 2016 campaign. But these sections were allowed to remain confidential after a judge ruled that publishing of these sections could harm ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign’s finance violations.
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 FBI raided Cohen's Manhattan home and office in April 2018, one in many investigations that has threatened Trump's presidency. The agents seized more than 4 million electronic and paper files in the searches, more than a dozen mobile devices and iPads, 20 external hard drives, flash drives and laptops. (With Agency inputs)