By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — New charges and arrests are possible in the prosecution of a U.S. Treasury Department employee accused of giving a journalist confidential banking reports related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Treasury worker Natalie Edwards, 40, is awaiting trial on charges that she gave a BuzzFeed journalist reports about wire transfers made by Paul Manafort and other suspects in Mueller’s investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Ravener told a New York federal judge during a hearing that prosecutors will know within two to three months whether additional charges will be filed.
“Yes, your honor, this is possible,” she said of additional charges and arrests. “The investigation is continuing.”
She provided no other details as to who else might be under scrutiny.
A new two-count charging document Wednesday said Edwards sent a message to a reporter last January saying that another individual at the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN, could “pull the data quick” for the reporter.
Edwards, a senior official at FinCEN who is currently on administrative leave, had previously referred to the other individual as “Enigma” and had described the person to the reporter as someone with a “wealth of information … willing to verify any information you have and provide additional details as warranted,” according to the charging document.
Edwards pleaded not guilty to the new felony charges.
When she was arrested in October, authorities wrote in a criminal complaint that another FinCEN employee was a co-conspirator and noted that this person exchanged more than 300 messages with the reporter via an encrypted messaging application. That person, identified as an associate director at FinCEN to whom Edwards reported, was not charged or identified in court papers.
Outside court, Edwards’ lawyer Jacob Kaplan said his client was preparing for trial.
He issued a written statement from himself and defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo in response to Wednesday’s charges saying Edwards conspired to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports and made unauthorized disclosures of the reports.
“She is not the first person to be prosecuted for doing the right thing, and she is steadfast in seeing this matter to the end,” he said.
Judge Edgardo Ramos suggested that the time before the next court date, April 2, will give the parties a chance to explore whether the case can be resolved without a trial.
Kaplan, though, sounded as if no deal was imminent.
“The facts aren’t really in dispute,” he said. “It’s more the significance of the facts that carry the day.”
He said he wasn’t even sure that a sweet deal from the government “would do it.”
“We’re looking forward to defending the case,” Kaplan said.
As for his client, he said: “She’s doing well under the circumstances.”