The FBI asked for – and received – historical location data on two of Michael Cohen’s cell phones covering the five weeks before the 2016 presidential election as part of the investigation into potential campaign finance violations, records unsealed on Tuesday reveal.
The request for the data – made on April 7, 2018 – came as part of an investigation into “a criminal violation of the campaign finance laws by Michael Cohen, a lawyer who holds himself out as the personal attorney for President Donald J. Trump,” wrote an FBI agent in a heavily redacted affidavit supporting the request.
The request covered two periods of time: from October 1, 2016 until November 8, 2016 and from January 1, 2018 onwards. A scribbled note on the request appears to have amended it from an initial ask that would have given the government information from October 1, 2016 until the time of the request:
The two time periods appear to line up with crucial points in the dealmaking surrounding hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen eventually pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in connection with the deal.
In fall 2016, Daniels had been in talks with ABC’s Good Morning America to discuss a 2006 sexual encounter she had with the president. In October – the period covered by the warrant – Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to Daniels to buy her silence.
The deal began to fall apart after a blockbuster January 2018 Wall Street Journal article broke open the story, leading to Cohen eventually
The request suggests that federal prosecutors wanted to know precisely where Cohen was as the deals around Daniels were made, and as they began to collapse.
Nothing from the released documents appears to suggest that the FBI began to investigate the campaign finance allegations before the Wall Street Journal published its story in January 2018.
Read the exhibit below: