Newly disclosed court records reveal that convicted felon Michael Cohen — Donald Trump's former "fixer," who flipped in dramatic fashion against the president — had been investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller "far longer than previously known."
According to court documents released Friday, Mueller had been investigating Trump's personal lawyer "for fraud in his personal business dealings and for potentially acting as an unregistered foreign agent at least nine months before FBI agents in New York raided his home and office," the Associated Press reported Monday.
A few months after the FBI raided his home and offices in April of last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to a series of charges, including tax and bank fraud, giving false testimony to Congress, and campaign finance violations on behalf of "Client 1." He was sentenced to three years in prison, but before he was locked up, Democrats gave Cohen another chance to testify before Congress. The result was Cohen accusing Trump of being a "con man" and "racist" who is guilty of assorted "illicit acts."
The newly released court documents, which AP notes are heavily redacted, reveal that Mueller began investigating Cohen in July 2017, which AP stresses is "far longer than previously known."
"[A] big part of its focus was Cohen’s taxi businesses and misrepresentations he made to banks as part of a scheme to relieve himself of some $22 million in debt he owed on taxi medallion loans," AP reports.
The other line of inquiry was into Cohen's potential connection to companies with foreign ties. Some of the money Cohen allegedly received came from "consulting contracts he’d signed after Trump won office," and involved payments "from companies with strong foreign ties, including a Korean aerospace company and Columbus Nova, an investment management firm affiliated with Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg."
But ultimately, as AP notes, Cohen was never charged for "failing to register as a foreign agent."
In his appearance before Congress a few weeks ago, Cohen laid out a series of accusations against Trump and repeatedly claimed that it was his own blind loyalty to his number one client that really ended up getting him in trouble. Cohen said that while he admitted to lying to Congress before, this time he pledged to present an "honest" account of his dirty dealings with Trump. A day after he delivered his opening statement and answered lawmakers questions, Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Mark Meadows (NC) sent a letter to the attorney general referring Cohen for investigation for perjury.
"While testifying under oath, Mr. Cohen made what appear to be numerous willfully and intentionally false statements of material fact contradicted by the record established by the Justice Department in United States v. Cohen, 18-cr-602 (S.D.N.Y.) (WHP)," their letter stated. "Mr. Cohen's testimony was at times in direct contradiction to assertions contained in pleadings authored by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). There are other instances in which Mr. Cohen's statements to the Committee were immediately contradicted by witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the subject matter."