A judge has unsealed search warrant documents, revealing new details about what the FBI knew before it conducted its raids on former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
What are the details?
The warrants were unsealed Thursday by Judge William Pauley of the Southern District of New York.
The newly released documents detail multiple phone calls between Cohen and both then-candidate Donald Trump and former Trump aide Hope Hicks days before payments were made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who’s real name is Stephanie Clifford. Hicks had denied knowing about the payments until after the fact.
Cohen also made calls to Daniels’ lawyer, Keith Davidson, and David Pecker and Dylan Howard from American Media Inc., the company that owns the tabloid the National Enquirer. At one point, Cohen talked to Trump and Hicks on a conference call, then spoke with Hicks, Pecker, Howard, and Trump again with an hour.
In an affidavit justifying one of the Cohen warrants, an FBI agent wrote:
Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of the communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public, particularly in the wake of the Access Hollywood story
Shortly after these calls took place, Cohen would pay Daniels $130,000 to keep her from going public with her story about having had sex with Trump while his son Barron was an infant. Cohen initially insisted that he had paid Daniels on his own and that Trump was not involved.
Why is Cohen in jail?
Cohen plead guilty in November to lying to Congress about a real estate project he had been involved with on behalf of Trump. Special counsel Robert Mueller said that Cohen had deliberately tried to mislead Congress to “give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus and … the very first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”