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Mueller’s team used phone records to probe Cohen’s location during Stormy Daniels payoff saga: Search warrants

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Investigators obtained a mountain of evidence against Michael Cohen, according to newly revealed court documents, and suspected early on that President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer was a foreign agent.

The Southern District of New York released search warrants relating to Cohen on Tuesday as part of a court order, and the documents show the FBI appears to have gathered considerable evidence related to campaign finances — some of which is still being withheld from the public, reported Bloomberg.

Special counsel Robert Mueller started eying Cohen two months after he was appointed by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and the FBI obtained a search warrant July 18, 2017, for the former Trump Organization’s email records dating back to Jan. 1, 2016 — and then another one for emails from mid-2015.

The second affidavit, from Feb. 28, 2018, said investigators were seeking evidence of conspiracy to defraud the United States and that Cohen may have been acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

Journalist Marcy Wheeler said investigators may have been interested in Cohen’s work with a Kazakhstan bank and Korean airspace company, as well as his work for Columbus Nova, which has been linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

“It appears that Mueller’s worries about Trump’s closest associates acting as spies wasn’t limited to (Paul) Manafort and (Michael) Flynn, but extended, too, to his personal lawyer,” Wheeler wrote. “And Mueller already had evidence of that fact by July 18, 2017.”

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Several portions of the affidavits are listed as “The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme,” and they’re each followed by more than 18 redacted pages.

Cohen has said after he pleaded guilty that Trump directed illegal payoffs to women who claimed to have been his mistress, and the newly revealed warrants show investigators obtained location data on two of Cohen’s cell phones from the five weeks ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Investigators also obtained cell phone location data dating from Jan. 1, 2018.

Those two time periods line up with publicly known events surrounding the payoffs to former porn actress Stormy Daniels, who had been discussing in the weeks prior to the election coming forward with an account of her affair with Trump.

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Cohen pleaded guilty to arranging a $130,000 payoff to Daniels, which was eventually revealed in a January 2018 article in the Wall Street Journal, and it appears investigators wanted to know exactly where the attorney was during that period.

Edit: A previous version of this story reported that Columbus Nova was “ultimately controlled” by Viktor Vekselberg, which the company disputes: “Columbus Nova itself is not now, and has never been, owned by any foreign entity or person including Viktor Vekselberg or the Renova Group,” the company said in a statement. “The same is true with regard to all investment management companies under the Columbus Nova umbrella.”

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Trump angrily demands newspaper reveal unnamed sources behind bombshell report on his Russia policy

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President Donald Trump on Monday evening again lashed out at The New York Times for reporting on his Russia policy.

"The story in The New York Times about the U.S. escalating attacks on Russia’s power grid is fake news, and the failing New York Times knows it," Trump argued in a tweet sent after 10 p.m.

"They should immediately release their sources which, if they exist at all, which I doubt, are phony," he continued.

"Times must be held fully accountable," he demanded.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140804748423118848

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Trump seethes and calls Fox ‘fake news’ after seeing a story that made him mad

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Trouble appears to be brewing between President Donald Trump and the cable news station he loves: Fox News.

In a tweet Monday night, the president lashed out at the network over its polling and called it “fake news’ — an epithet he usually reserves for mainstream outlets:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140768516288782336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz, who has previously noted that Trump appears to record news segments and watch them a few hours later, suggested that the president appeared to be reacting to an earlier segment from Special Report with Bret Baier. The segment showed that, even according to Fox News’ polling, Trump trails every single leading candidate in the Democratic field in head-to-head matchups.

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BUSTED: Trump’s DOJ intervened to keep Paul Manafort from being imprisoned at Rikers Island

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President Donald Trump's Department of Justice intervened to keep his former campaign chairman out of jail, The New York Times reported Monday.

Manafort had been expected to be moved to the Rikers Island jail complex.

"But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York," the newspaper reported.

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