FBI has seized sixteen cellphones from Michael Cohen. Here’s what that means.

How many cellphones do you own? Probably just one, because you’d need a good explanation for carrying two phones. Do you keep all your old phones in a drawer? That’s probably harmless, unless you’re under criminal investigation by the FBI. How many burner phones do you keep around? Almost certainly none. These questions are all relevant, because as it turns out, the FBI has seized sixteen cellphones from Michael Cohen.

That detail surfaced in court proceedings today, as the seized evidence was laid out, and attorney Micheal Avenatti kept a running count. Some of the seized phones were modern cellphones, while others were Blackberries. Although Blackberry phones are still sold, almost no one buys them, suggesting that Cohen has been keeping his old phones long after he’s upgraded to new ones. This means the Feds now have electronic records of his phone calls, voicemails, emails, and other cellular communications dating back many, many years. It also appears to mean that Cohen was using multiple current phones.

Even if Cohen upgraded to a new phone every other year dating back to the Blackberry era, that still wouldn’t add up to sixteen phones. So it’s reasonable to conclude that he’s been running around with multiple phones that are currently in service. Perhaps one or two of them could be explained by needing phones on different networks for overseas travel. But it also raises the strong possibility of having multiple cellphones for clandestine reasons.

In any case, the Feds now have all of the data from all sixteen of Michael Cohen’s past and present phones. Depending on how far back the call logs go, and those phones have been locally caching things like email and voicemail, it’s possible that these phones will provide relevant evidence against the people Cohen was communicating with – and it appears to go back a decade or more.

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