READ: Judge orders release of Cohen search warrants – Washington Examiner
The nearly 1000 pages of search warrants documents related to former Trump lawyer and convicted felon Michael Cohen were unsealed and released to the public almost fully unredacted today, following a federal court order.
The FBI had executed warrants and searched Cohen’s home, hotel room, office, deposit box, cellphones, and electronic communications in April 2018. A number of media outlets battled in court for months for the warrants, the warrant applications, and the underlying materials to be fully released to the public. Some of this information was unsealed earlier this year, but much of it was redacted.
Yesterday, a federal judge revealed that investigators for the Southern District of New York had concluded their investigation into whether the Trump Organization was involved in Cohen’s hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, and the judge ordered the information gathered on Cohen’s campaign violations be made public.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley said that while prosecutors wanted certain parts of the information they’d gathered on Cohen to remain redacted, he was ordering the documents be released in their entirety.
“The campaign finance violations discussed in the materials are a matter of national importance,” the judge said Wednesday. “Now that the government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials.”
Beyond the warrant materials released today, the government’s letter to the judge informing the court that they’d concluded their Cohen hush money investigation was also made public.
“The government has effectively concluded its investigations of (1) who, besides Michael Cohen, was involved in and may be criminally liable for the two campaign finance violations to which Cohen pled guilty [redacted]; and (2) whether certain individuals, [redacted], made false statements, gave false testimony or otherwise obstructed justice in connection with this investigation [redacted],” a footnote in that letter read.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight different counts, ranging from lying to Congress about the timing of plans for a proposed Trump Tower Moscow to campaign finance violations flowing from hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Investigators alleged that the Trump Organization approved reimbursement of hundreds of thousands of dollars paid from Cohen’s business accounts, which were listed as legal expenses rather than hush money payments in official filings. The now-concluded criminal probe centered on whether any other crimes had been committed, possibly involving President Trump.
Cohen started a three-year stint in prison in early May following high-profile congressional testimony earlier this year in February, where Cohen tried to connect Trump to a number of scandals.
The judge ordered prosecutors to release a redacted version of these documents earlier this year, and they were unsealed with blacked-out sections in March. Those warrants claimed that Cohen participated in an “illegal campaign contribution scheme” and the documents revealed, among other things, that the FBI had access to Cohen’s emails from as early as the beginning of the Trump campaign.
The only redactions that the judge allowed in the documents are the names of law enforcement investigators, individuals who had business dealings with Cohen related to taxi medallions, and private information related to an uncharged third party.