The government just pieced together 16 pages from Michael Cohen's paper shredder and obtained thousands of his encrypted messages

  • Federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing that they had pieced together 16 pages’ worth of content from President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen’s paper shredder.
  • The FBI also was able to obtain more than 700 pages of Cohen’s encrypted messages and call logs.
  • Cohen is the focus of an investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal lobbying, or other crimes. He has not been charged.

Federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing that they had pieced together 16 pages’ worth of content from President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen’s paper shredder, which was obtained in the FBI’s April raids of Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room.

Prosecutors also said the FBI had obtained more than 700 pages’ worth of encrypted messages and call logs from Cohen’s phones. The information came from apps like WhatsApp and Signal.

Finally, prosecutors said they produced to Cohen the information from one of two BlackBerrys they previously could not get into. The government is still unable to obtain data from the second BlackBerry.

Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in the filing that they conferred with Cohen’s lawyers and that the parties jointly proposed a June 25 deadline for Cohen’s team to review the newly produced documents for privilege designations. US District Judge Kimba Wood had imposed a Friday deadline for Cohen’s team to finish its review of roughly 2.4 million documents it had yet to sift through.

Cohen is the focus of an investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal lobbying, or other crimes. He has not been charged. In April, the FBI raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room.

At the center of Cohen’s troubles is a $US130,000 hush-money payment he facilitated weeks before the 2016 presidential election to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to keep her quiet about her allegation of a 2006 affair with Trump. The FBI sought documents related to that payment and other similar agreements with women.

‘I shudder to think what was so sensitive that even Michael Cohen thought, “I better shred this”‘

“The statement by the USAO that the FBI has recovered 16 pages of shredded documents and 731 encrypted messages may be ominous for Michael Cohen,” Mitchell Epner, an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich who was previously an assistant US attorney for the District of New Jersey, told Business Insider.

Epner said that while the encrypted messages may not prove incriminating, the 16 pages of reconstructed shredded documents seemed “more likely to be a problem for Mr. Cohen.”

“Given the lack of rigour with which Mr. Cohen apparently conducted himself, I shudder to think what was so sensitive that even Michael Cohen thought, ‘I better shred this,'” Epner said.

Right now, the documents obtained by the FBI in the raids are the focus of Cohen’s case. In April, Cohen and his lawyers successfully argued for the appointment of a special master, allowing them, Trump’s attorneys, and the Trump Organisation to identify documents protected by attorney-client privilege that could not be used in a potential prosecution.

Barbara Jones was appointed as the special master to oversee the review and determine which documents are privileged. Last week, Jones reported that she had reviewed the first 300,000 documents and determined that just 162 were privileged. She disagreed with Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organisation on three.

If Cohen’s team can’t finish reviewing the remaining documents to make privilege designations by the deadline, Wood might turn the rest over to a “taint team” of government prosecutors to finish the review, she said. That team would be walled off from those who might prosecute Cohen. It’s the option Cohen and Trump don’t want to happen.

Earlier Friday, Trump was asked whether he was concerned that Cohen would “flip” on him, or provide damaging information on the president to prosecutors in exchange for a favourable deal.

Trump said he wasn’t worried at all.

“I did nothing wrong,” he said. “You have to understand, this stuff would have come out a long time ago. I did nothing wrong. I don’t do anything wrong.”

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