Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica. Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans. The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department was investigating Broidy. The sealed warrant offers new details of federal authorities’ investigation of allegations that Broidy had attempted to cash in on his Trump White House connections in dealings with foreign officials. It also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records — just as it did with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Broidy served as a major Trump campaign fundraiser and was the national deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until he resigned in April 2018, when it was revealed he had agreed to secretly pay off a former Playboy model in exchange for her silence about their affair.
The search warrant cites three potential crimes that authorities are investigating: conspiracy, mon
ey laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials. To obtain a search warrant, authorities have to convince a judge that there’s a probable cause they will find evidence of those specific crimes. The search warrant also for the first time links Broidy to a globe-trotting Miami Beach party promoter. The warrant, filed in July 2018, targeted Broidy’s office in Los Angeles. The scope of what authorities were seeking was broad. They planned to seize any evidence related to a list of dozens of people, countries and corporate entities, according to the warrant. Among the names on the list are Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign official who has pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe; Colfax Law Office, the firm founded by Robin Rosenzweig, Broidy’s wife; and several foreign countries.
After a string of bankruptcies—including a scheme where Trump talked investors into banding together to buy out a bankrupt casino, then purposely bankrupted the investor group—no one wanted to touch a Trump project. But while he was radioactive elsewhere, Trump found a friend in Deutsche Bank. During the past two decades, the bank has channeled more than $2 billion to Trump. Just why the German bank was willing to loan Trump huge sums when everyone else was breaking out the 20-foot poles is already the subject of twin congressional probes and another investigation by the New York attorney general. And, as the New York Times reports, there may be plenty of fire lurking behind the smoke. Deutsche Bank continued to lend Trump money despite a stack of potential red flags, but at least part of their willingness came from a simple cause: Trump lied to them. He repeatedly misstated his net worth, misrepresented his financial status, and overestimated the value of his assets. Deutsche Bank appears to have eventually seen through many of Trump’s lies—such as his claiming to be worth $3 billion in 2005 when he was worth something more like $780 million. But by then they had sunk more than $1 billion into Trump-related investments.But that’s not the biggest mystery. Two years before the bank caught Trump more than tripling his worth in order to scam another loan, there was a much better reason for it to walk away from any further dealings. Because in 2003, shortly after it first started to get involved with Trump, Deutsche Bank hit the same issue as previous banks: Trump reportedly defaulted on loans for hundreds of millions. But still, the bank gave him more. That wasn’t the last time Trump walked away and left Deutsche Bank holding worthless paper. Trump also appears to have defaulted on a loan in 2008. At the same time he was publicly talking about what a great time it was to be an investor and how he was going to pick up lots of real estate while it was cheap, he was telling Deutsche Bank that he couldn’t pay back his loan “because of the financial crisis.” All of this leads to one big question: Why? Why would any bank continue to give someone not just small loans, but billions, when they knew they were being lied to and had already been burned to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars?
The suspicion of many is that Deutsche Bank officials gave money to Trump because they were told to give money to Trump by people who had a big say at the bank. People like Russian oligarchs whose funds were not only purchasing apartments at Trump buildings, but were flowing through the bank in money-laundering schemes. As NPR reported in 2018, German police raided the offices of Deutsche Bank in November as part of a probe to investigate how the bank was helping keep “money offshore to elude tax collectors and government regulators.” Deutsche Bank states that it’s now cooperating with investigations both in Germany and in the United States, and in April, the bank is scheduled to provide congressional committees with “internal documents and communications” related to the loans provided to the Trump Organization. Bank officers who dealt with Trump are also likely to appear before those committees. Providing false financial statements to a bank in order to obtain a loan is felony bank fraud. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on the same charge.
Newly released documents that were used to get search warrants for former Trump attorney Michael Cohen include a lengthy section related to an “illegal campaign contribution scheme” that is completely redacted. The obscured section could underscore President Donald Trump’s legal peril in investigations by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to some legal experts. The 19-page blacked-out section falls within the hundreds of pages of search warrant materials made public Tuesday by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. The warrants were used for executing FBI raids on Cohen’s home and office in April. Cohen later pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance law through his involvement in hush-money payments made to two women ahead of the 2016 presidential election, both of whom claim they had affairs with Trump years earlier.
Cohen connected Trump directly to these payments, saying in congressional testimony that the then-presidential candidate “asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did.” Cohen was referring to porn star Stormy Daniels, who signed a $130,000 nondisclosure deal set up by Cohen that silenced her from discussing her alleged dalliance with Trump, which she says occurred in 2006 at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament. Trump should be “utterly terrified” that the section of the warrants concerning a scheme he has been directly implicated in was entirely redacted, said national security lawyer Bradley Moss.
Robert Mueller persuaded a judge within weeks of being made special counsel in 2017 that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s legal fixer, may have been secretly working for a foreign government. Legal filings unsealed on Tuesday said investigators working for Mueller were granted access to Cohen’s personal email account on 18 July 2017 on the basis that he may have broken several laws, including those on unregistered foreign agents. Cohen’s suspected efforts were not detailed in the documents. Cohen, one of Trump’s closest advisers for a decade, was known to have been paid in 2017 for consulting work by a state-controlled South Korean aviation company and a bank in Kazakhstan. The filings said Mueller’s investigators were looking in Cohen’s Gmail account for records on any “funds or benefits” he received from foreign governments or companies, as well as any files revealing efforts by Cohen to work on their behalf.
The court documents were released by a federal judge in New York, where Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance and personal financial crimes. They were originally filed by investigators in April last year to obtain additional search warrants. It was not previously known that Cohen was suspected of crimes relating to representing foreigners without registering with US authorities, and no such charges were brought against him. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and is due to be jailed in May. The filings released on Tuesday ran to hundreds of pages. More than 19 pages, apparently relating to the campaign finance scheme, were entirely blacked out, indicating that it remains under investigation. Cohen directly implicated Trump in the scheme, which involved hush-money payments to women who alleged during the 2016 campaign that they had affairs with Trump. Some legal analysts have said Trump could be vulnerable to prosecution for the scheme once he leaves office. He denies breaking any laws. The documents released on Tuesday gave a rare insight on the early actions taken by Mueller’s office in the weeks after his appointment as special counsel on 17 May 2017, following the president’s firing of James Comey, the FBI director. Mueller was asked to look into any connections or coordination between Russia and Trump’s team. They showed search warrants obtained for Cohen’s email accounts gave investigators sweeping authority to look into related data including Cohen’s calendars, contacts and photographs. Investigators were also given permission to use Cohen’s fingers or face to unlock his electronic devices if necessary.
Following their successful July 2017 application, Mueller’s team secured several more warrants for Cohen. They were granted a search warrant for Cohen’s Apple iCloud account on 8 August 2017, the filings said, and then obtained two more search warrants in November 2017 for two additional email accounts used by Cohen. Mueller’s team passed some of its findings, which did not relate to their central investigation, up to justice department colleagues in New York. After prosecutors there were granted further warrants, FBI agents raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and storage facility and seized millions of documents. Mueller’s investigation, which appears to be drawing to a conclusion, has roiled Trump’s first term in office and led to the criminal convictions of a series of former Trump advisers for financial crimes and lying to investigators. It has also led to the indictment of more than two dozen Russians for interfering in the 2016 US election campaign, but no one from Trump’s campaign has been charged over activity relating to the election campaign. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been accused by Mueller of sharing private polling data with a colleague accused of having ties to Russian intelligence services.