Judge orders public release of Michael Cohen search warrants

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s search warrants in his investigation of Michael Cohen will be made public with redactions on Wednesday, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.

The five warrants in total encompass the searches the special counsel conducted between July and November 2017 of Cohen’s emails and other content related to his email accounts, the order said.

Chief Judge Beryl Howell issued the order in response to a lawsuit by CNN and other media outlets seeking the release of the court records.

There will be some redactions to these documents when the Justice Department makes them public, similar to the redactions made to Cohen search warrants in New York federal court. The redactions will keep secret ongoing investigation details and the identities of people who haven’t been charged.

Four of the five special counsel’s office warrants were referenced in the previously unsealed Cohen documents in New York.

Howell told the Justice Department it would need to update her by late August at the latest regarding whether the redacted parts of the warrants should stay under seal.

Cohen was formerly President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization and the national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He began serving a three-year prison sentence this month for financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.

Cohen, once a Trump loyalist, implicated the President in a hush money scheme when he pleaded guilty in federal court last year. He admitted that “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” he had kept information that would have harmed Trump from becoming public during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen made or helped orchestrate payments that were designed to silence women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump years before his 2016 bid.

In April 2018, the FBI raided Cohen’s New York office, hotel room and residence and seized information that included documents related to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump denies having such an encounter with Daniels.

Mueller had been investigating Cohen for possibly lying to banks, breaking foreign lobbying laws and money laundering, according to one of the previously released search warrants in Manhattan federal court.

Those documents, released in March before Mueller finished his work, revealed that the special counsel had wanted more information about an account Cohen opened in the name of the shell company used to pay Daniels, as well as work he had done with foreign entities. The documents in New York federal court had also revealed that Mueller extensively tracked Cohen’s computer data during the time he worked for Trump, until 2017. Mueller also was allowed by the judge to access data stored in an iCloud account.

In the New York documents, the details related to the hush-money campaign finance contributions to the women alleging affairs and the ensuing investigation are still under seal and will remain so for at least another two months, a judge ordered Tuesday, signaling that federal prosecutors continue to investigate the Trump Organization.

Cohen was not ultimately charged with illegal foreign lobbying or money laundering. Mueller referred the Cohen investigation to the New York prosecutors in February 2018, who ultimately charged him with several crimes, to which he pleaded guilty. The special counsel’s office later charged Cohen with lying to Congress, and he helped them in the Russia and obstruction of justice investigations.

Cohen had been one of Mueller’s earlier targets in his investigation and he became one of the special counsel’s significant cooperators near the end.

This story has been updated.