Documents from FBI’s raid of Michael Cohen’s home have been released. I discuss on MSNBC with Stephanie Ruhle.
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Bianchi discusses documents from FBI’s raid of Cohen’s home – Part 2
March 23rd, 2019
Stephanie Ruhle: Welcome back. I’m Stephanie Rule. We have to take you back to the breaking news this morning, the search warrant and other documents related to the FBI raids on the President’s former attorney, Michael Cohen have just been made public. I want to bring back Tom Winter, he’s been speed reading through this documents. Along with my lawyers, Paul Charlton and Bob Bianchi. Tomas, what have you learned?
Tom Winter: So, Stephanie, what we learned is, you know I referenced that some of the warrants were 263 pages in length and those were just the warrants that were served on Michael Cohen’s physical addresses. What we’re really learning this morning, Stephanie, is the timeline of this investigation. Specifically, back in July of 2017 the special Councel’s office was first able to seek and get through the FBI, a search warrant for one of Michael Cohen’s Gmail addresses. In August of 2017 they were able to get access to his iCloud account and then in November, Cohen had apparently a second Gmail address according to the search warrant documents and the special Counsel’s office. Again, the FBI obtaining this for them, were able to get access to that account. And then in February of 2018, so February of last year, literally just a little over a year ago they were able to, they were able to shift over certain aspects of their investigation. That’s the special Counsel’s Office investigation into Michael Cohen to Federal Prosecutors here in Manhattan, in the southern district’s office. So, basically what happened is you see that the bulk of the investigation was turned over in February of last year, so barely a year ago. One of the other things that we’re starting to learn here, Stephanie, and some of the techniques that law enforcement was able to use, to be able to get these warrants specifically, they used a device called, what’s called the trigger fish, which it’s a, it’s kind of a euphemism, not a euphemism, but kind of a law enforcement term for a device that is able to specifically locate cell phones. So, they wanted to be able to establish that Michael Cohen was in fact at a hotel room here in Manhattan while his apartment was undergoing renovation. So, they were able to use this, technical device to establish that his cell phone was actually in use in that room to be able to prove to a judge that he would be there, so they could get that warrant. In addition to that, and this is something that NBC news first reported last year, federal agents were able to get access to what’s called a pen register, or a trap and trace, on Michael Cohen’s cell phone. According to one of the warrants that was released today that would give them the ability to look at who Michael Cohen was calling and when and for how long, as well as calls that he received, when and for how long. But not being able to monitor the content of those calls. So, in other words, they couldn’t listen in, but they at least knew who he was calling and when. So, we’re starting to learn that this morning there’s a couple of hundred pages of documents. Although, I caution folks, I see on Twitter, people saying, oh, there’s 300, 400 pages of documents. Yes, there are that many, but is as, as is typical with search warrants, Stephanie, basically a significant amount of this documentation has to do with boiler plate language that federal agents use to prove to a judge, look, this is the type of thing that we’re requesting. This is what gives us the authority, this is my background and experience, which is why I’m able to be able to say some of the things to you that I’m able to say to you in the process of getting that search warrant. So, the actual information that we learned here as far as new facts of this investigation, is really limited. There’s over a dozen pages of redacted information as it relates to those payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall who have of course alleged affairs with the President, something the White House and the President has strenuously denied. But the information, people who are trying to get more information about how those payment schemes were put together, they’re going to be a little bit disappointed this morning because the judge did allow Prosecutors to be able to redact that information.
Stephanie Ruhle: Ah, the good old redactments, black marks up and down those pages. Uh, Mr. Bianchi, what’s your take here? I know you haven’t gotten to see these pages yet.
Robert Bianchi: It’s kind of like what I said before, the campaign finance issues that are being still redacted make no sense to me. There’s been testimony about it, there’s been pleas of guilty to it, but the judge said there’s an ongoing investigation with respect to it. And the thing that I also find confounding is that the judge said, as we indicated before, Stephanie, that the public has a right to know the information that we’re getting today because they have a right to understand the integrity of the 2016 Presidential election, which is substantial. So, there’s something in these documents that led the judge to believe that this had something to do with the 2016 Presidential election. We obviously know the hush money payments had something to do with that. But could this be the Trump Tower Russia scenario that’s in there? I don’t know. We haven’t reviewed the documents, but somehow that judge felt it was important for the public to know how it influenced that election.
Stephanie Ruhle: Paul?
Paul Charlton: What I see and in this search warrant and in the search warrant that’s been revealed, Stephanie, it is a very careful special Counsel’s office seeking search warrants to obtain email accounts that were held by Mr. Cohen and then the handoff, if you will, from the special Counsel’s office to the southern district of New York. And again, an extraordinarily bold move on behalf of Prosecutors to search the house, the office of a lawyer, and especially the lawyer of the President, anybody who’s been criticizing the southern district of New York or the special Counsel’s office ought to take a look at the careful and very studious way in which these Prosecutors have gone about their business to make sure that the fourth amendment rights of everybody were protected and that they did their job as they should in an apolitical fashion.
Stephanie Ruhle: Well, before we go, they have been waiting patiently, New York Times op-ed columnists, Bret Stephens and Joel Benenson political strategist, with me. What’s your take thus far gentlemen?
Bret Stephens: Look, the campaign finance allegation, so far strike me as the most damaging and potentially impeachable for the President, of all the broad panoply of allegations that have been made against the President have obtained a conviction, a jail sentence for Mr. Cohen. And one of the things that’s extremely important here is to understand how this, this story might be different from the John Edwards story because you’ll remember the John Edwards, the former Vice-Presidential candidate, had an affair that he was trying to cover up with hush money payments. He was able to escape a conviction because it wasn’t clear whether that was in the service of influencing an election. In this case, it’s clear, given the timing of the payments just before the November 2016 election, that they were, that they were material and that’s why I think this is interesting and why it should be, why the President should be worried about it.
Stephanie Ruhle: I’m feeling uh-huh, coming from you?
Joel Benenson: Look the web of deceit that’s going on here, it just gets deeper and deeper every time documents like this are released. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet of how far this goes, I really don’t. I believe your story.
Stephanie Ruhle: What makes you think that?
Joel Benenson: I think, look, the piece you just did on Deutsche Bank on the previous segment, right? I think we’ve all talked about Deutsche Bank for a long time. There is more there than meets the eye and I think we’re just beginning to scratch the surface and start ripping Band-Aids off. And I think Prosecutors aren’t going to let up on this. I think they are onto something and these trails are going to take a long time to cover and do the groundwork, but I think there’s a lot more there and it’s going to lead to a lot more than just campaign finance violations.
Robert Bianchi: Steph, I have one last point, the judge said that you could not give any data with regard to campaign finance violations. We know about Colin Weisselberg, we know that whole thing, but there’s individual one, who may still be under investigation and may be the very reason that that was not allowed to be released, because I can’t think of any other person that was involved in that transaction. Just watch for it.
Stephanie Ruhle: Individual One. All right, wow. A lot of breaking news this morning.