Prosecutors submit redacted Cohen raid documents under seal, teeing up public release

Prosecutors submit redacted Cohen raid documents under seal, teeing up public release
© Stefani Reynolds

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have submitted under seal redacted copies of search warrants connected to the federal raid on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s properties, after a judge ordered the documents be partially released.

“The government respectfully submits, under seal, copies of the search warrant materials that were the subject of the Order,” U.S. attorney Robert Khuzami wrote in a letter to the federal judge overseeing Cohen’s case on Thursday. 

“The Government has proposed redactions that it believes are consistent with the Order. In addition, although not specifically addressed in the Order, the Government has redacted the email addresses of Michael Cohen and others, as well as Cohen’s phone numbers, apartment number, and safety deposit box number,” he wrote.

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The letter means that the release of the documents — including copies of search warrants, warrant applications and supporting affidavits and riders connected to the April 2018 FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room — could be imminent. 

In early February, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III ordered the partial release of the materials after a group of media outlets had petitioned for their release.  

Pauley ordered that the government release search warrants and other materials that justified the raid on Cohen’s properties with appropriate redactions in order to protect ongoing investigations.

“The public interest in the underlying subject matter of the Materials—which implicates the integrity of the 2016 presidential election — is substantial,” Pauley wrote in the 30-page opinion released Feb. 7.

Federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York had opposed the effort, saying it would jeopardize an ongoing probe and prejudice privacy rights of uncharged individuals linked to the case.

To assuage those concerns, Pauley ordered the government to redact details about Cohen’s campaign finance violations that could jeopardize the ongoing investigation into the crimes.

“At this stage, wholesale disclosure of the Materials would reveal the scope and direction of the Government’s ongoing investigation. It would also unveil subjects of the investigation and the potential conduct under scrutiny, the full volume and nature of the evidence gathered thus far, and the sources of information provided to the Government,” Pauley wrote.

Cohen, who is testifying on Capitol Hill this week, pleaded guilty last August to a series of federal crimes, including a campaign finance charge stemming from a scheme to pay off women who alleged they had affairs with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE before the 2016 election.

Cohen detailed Trump’s alleged involvement in the scheme during an explosive public testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, saying the president paid him back for the hush money payments after taking office. Trump has denied wrongdoing, casting Cohen as a liar and accusing him of trying to get a reduced prison sentence.

Pauley ordered the government to submit proposed redactions by Thursday, and said he would review the redacted materials and subsequently direct the government to file them publicly. It is unclear when that will happen.

The judge also ordered the government to submit a status report under seal by mid-May identifying any individuals or entities subject to ongoing investigation and explaining any need for continued redaction of the materials.

Cohen is scheduled to report to prison in May, where he is set to serve a three-year sentence.