Court Battles

Judge says probe tied to Trump hush-money payments is over

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A federal judge said on Wednesday that federal investigators have finished their investigation into campaign finance violations committed by President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, over payments made to women alleging affairs with Trump.

Judge William H. Pauley III wrote in an order issued in the Southern District of New York that the “government now represents that it has concluded the aspects of its investigation that justified the continued sealing of the portions of the materials relating to Cohen’s campaign finance violations.”

{mosads}“The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance. Now that the Government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials,” he wrote.

The filing signals that federal investigators had wrapped up their probe in relation to Cohen and other Trump Organization executives’ potential involvement in the payments.

Cohen reported to federal prison earlier this year to serve a three-year sentence. He pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during Trump’s 2016 campaign, and to violating campaign finance laws with hush-money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleged affairs with the president.

Cohen implicated Trump during the court proceedings, claiming that he made the payments to the women at his direction. The president, who initially denied knowledge of the payments, has maintained that he did not violate any campaign finance laws.

In a statement, Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, said that “prosecutors found that virtually all of Michael’s admitted crimes were done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald Trump,” questioning why his client was the only person to face charges.

“Case closed? Why is Michael Cohen — after all his voluntary cooperation and testimony that [former special counsel Robert] Mueller said was credible and went to ‘core issues’ and all the information and documents he voluntarily provided to prosecutors and to congress — the only member of the Trump company to be prosecuted and imprisoned?” David asked.

Pauley ordered federal prosecutors to file, by Thursday morning, largely unredacted versions of the search warrants used for raids on Cohen’s apartment, office and hotel room last year.

He said that prosecutors asked for redactions about the campaign finance violations “to protect third-party privacy interests,” but he rejected that request.

“In particular — and in contrast to the private nature of Cohen’s business transactions — the weighty public ramifications of the conduct described in the campaign finance portions warrant disclosure,” Pauley wrote.

The judge did allow redactions for “the names of law enforcement investigators, references to individuals who purportedly engaged in business transactions or contemplated business transactions with Cohen relating to taxi medallions.”

CNN reported last week that the federal investigation on the alleged campaign finance violations was coming to an end, and that Trump Organization executives are unlikely to be charged.

—Updated at 5:47 p.m.


Tags Donald Trump Michael Cohen
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