As you likely know, the Michael Cohen search warrant and supporting documents were released yesterday. You can view the documents using the link at the bottom of this post.
The warrant describes that investigators were looking for evidence for conspiracy, lying to banks, bank fraud and illegal campaign contributions. In addition to his home, the hotel room Cohen was staying in, his office, the investigators searched a safe deposit box at TD Bank and two iPhones.
Interestingly the search warrant reveals that law enforcement was using a “triggerfish” surveillance tool to verify whether Michael Cohen was staying at the hotel room law enforcement had identified previously. There is little known about the triggerfish device, but it appears to act like a cell tower allowing users to gather information about the telephone it targets. It seems to be like the StingRay device that caused some controversy previously.
The triggerfish device allegedly allows law enforcement to eavesdrop on a call. The search warrant seems to confirm that triggerfish also provides the location of the targeted phone. However, according to the search warrant, the device could not specifically tell on which floor the telephone was at. Through elimination the investigators zeroed in on room number 1728 as the place Cohen and his family were staying at.
The investigators were looking for information about bank fraud and an “illegal campaign contribution” made to “then-presidential candidate Donald Trump” on October 2016.
According to the search warrant, Cohen lied to the banks about how much money he had access to when he asked them for debt relief on $22 million in debt, he owed for taxi medallions.
In regard to Essential Consultants, the search warrant stated that Columbus Nova, “controlled by Russian Viktor Vekselberg” paid Cohen $583,332,98 over the first eight months of 2017. Novartis paid Essential $1,099,780 between April 2017 and February 2018. Also, AT&T paid Cohen through Essential Consultants $600,000 between June 2017 and January 2018.
Korea Aerospace Industries also paid $600,000 in 2017. A Kazakhstani bank, Kazkommertsbank paid Cohen, through Essentials $150,000 on May 22, 2017.
Law firm Squire Patton Boggs also paid Cohen $426,097.70 in January 2018.
The monies paid to Cohen were for “political purposes,” according to the search warrant.
The whole section about the “illegal campaign contribution scheme” is redacted.
The search warrants states that Michael Cohen had an email account at the Trump Organization but the investigators “have not been able to obtain the contents” of that account.
The search warrant stated that the investigators wanted to cease two iPhones from Cohen. To avoid the possibility that Michael Cohen or an associate would remotely delete the contents of the smart phones, the search warrant provided authority for law enforcement to press Cohen’s fingers on the devices or hold them up to his face to unlock them at the time they are taken from Cohen.
The search warrant states that they wanted to disconnect the devices from the Internet so that they could not be remotely wiped.