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Michael Cohen search warrant to be released

NBC News logo NBC News 3/18/2019 Tom Winter and Adiel Kaplan
a man wearing a suit and tie: Image: Michael Cohen, former lawyer to President Donald Trump, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019. © Pablo Martinez Monsivais Image: Michael Cohen, former lawyer to President Donald Trump, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019.

On Tuesday the public will see the search warrant that launched an April 2018 FBI raid on the home and offices of Michael Cohen, and may learn what made federal officials take an interest in the lawyer who was once President Donald Trump's fixer.

Judge William Pauley III ordered Monday that prosecutors make redacted copies of the search warrant and the FBI's search warrant affidavit available by Tuesday.

Personal identifying details including email addresses, phone numbers, Cohen's apartment number and safety deposit box number will be redacted, according to Pauley's order. Other portions of the documents may also be redacted, including details of any ongoing investigations.

The FBI raided Cohen's office and hotel suite on April 9, 2018, seeking information about payments the lawyer made to two women shortly before the 2016 election: A $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump in 2006, and $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, who also said she had an affair with Trump in 2006. The search warrant also sought records related to a portfolio of New York City taxi cab medallions that Cohen owns, potentially worth millions.

The president and the White House have strongly denied the affairs with Daniels and McDougal. Cohen, who was a vice president at the Trump Organization at the time of the raid, left his job in May 2018.

Typically, search warrant affidavits contain information about how an investigation was started, the potential crimes being investigated, and what information has been discovered so far that establishes the probable cause a judge needs to sign off on the search.

In the Cohen case, it is possible the search warrant discloses how investigators became aware of two payments to women that Cohen admitted were violations of campaign finance law, what crimes or information investigators had established early in their probe, and what items they sought to search and gather when they executed the warrant last April.

Details of any ongoing investigation may be redacted, on Tuesday .

Among the seized items were 12 audiotapes, later ruled not to be covered by attorney-client privilege. At least one of the tapes is a recording of Trump that Cohen made just before the 2016 presidential election, in which Cohen and Trump discussed buying the rights to the story of a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump, according to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and an individual with knowledge of Cohen's legal strategy.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, lying and campaign finance violations in August, and pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress in November. He begins serving three years in prison in May. He was disbarred in February.

Cohen also testified to Congress in February that he did illegal things for Trump during the 10 years he worked for him, and also told many lies on his behalf.

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