In an effort to avert a government shutdown last year, Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that included a new law making it easier for investigators to seize overseas data.
For federal prosecutors investigating Michael Cohen, it was just the breakthrough they needed.
As Salon reported, the spending measure included the passage of something called the CLOUD Act, which allowed law enforcement agencies the power to gain access to data that is stored overseas. For prosecutors from New York’s Southern District, the lack of such a law was preventing them from obtaining data stored on the email and iCloud account for Donald Trump’s former personal attorney. Prosecutors had a search warrant, but Google declined to hand over the data because it was stored on overseas servers.
The new law signed by Trump allowed prosecutors to get a new search warrant and force Google to hand it over. Newly released court documents seem to show that the emails uncovered a number of crimes committed by Cohen and with the possible involvement of Trump himself.
As CNN noted, the new release seems to spell more trouble for an increasingly embattled president.
“Court documents also show that Cohen was under investigation for acting as an unregistered foreign agent after he admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign companies to lobby the Trump administration on their behalf,” the Salon report noted.
“Cohen has not been charged with that crime, even though prosecutors discovered he had been paid more than $580,000 by a company linked to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.”
As CNN reported, the newly filed court documents also showed that Robert Mueller started investigating Cohen almost immediately after he was appointed as special counsel in May 2017. Cohen at the time was publicly loyal to Trump, still defending the president in public, but that would soon change after investigators raided his come and law office and brought a number of federal charges against him.
Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty to a series of charges, including felony campaign finance violations for his role in making hush money payments to women claiming they had affairs with Donald Trump shortly after the birth of his son. Trump himself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Cohen’s guilty plea, Cohen revealed in testimony to Congress. Legal experts said Trump would likely be facing an indictment himself were it not for a Justice Department policy not to indict a sitting president.