Sunlight Coming to Michael Cohen Campaign Finance Info

MANHATTAN (CN) – The first time a tranche of search warrants against former Trump fixer Michael Cohen became public, U.S. prosecutors aggressively redacted those materials to protect what was then an ongoing campaign-finance probe.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, stops to talk to a member of the press on May 4, 2019, in New York. Cohen reported to a federal prison on May 6 to begin serving a three-year sentence for campaign-finance violations, tax evasion, bank fraud and lying to Congress. AP Photo/Jonathan Carroll)

Announcing that investigation’s end, a judge ordered prosecutors on Wednesday to quickly disclose new information about how Cohen paid two women to silence their stories about supposed affairs with President Donald Trump.

“The campaign finance violations discussed in the materials are a matter of national importance,” U.S. District Judge William H Pauley III wrote. “Now that the government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials.”

Prosecutors released the Cohen search warrant materials — a meticulous trove of hundreds of pages that justified the 2018 raids of Cohen’s home, office and hotel — in March this year.

Though charges related to these offenses were never brought, the documents showed that prosecutors found probable cause to believe Cohen had acted as an unregistered foreign agent and violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Cohen’s relationship with Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, whose cousin Andrew Intrater owned Columbus Nova LLC, helped drive these suspicions.

The FBI traced monthly payments from Columbus Nova of $83,333, totaling $583,332.98, to Essential Consultants, the same shell company Cohen used in his hush-money payments to pornographic-film actress Stormy Daniels.

Columbus Nova denies that the money stemmed from Vekselberg or any foreign source, and Intrater recently filed a lawsuit seeking to unfreeze assets that the government traced to his cousin.

They say that scrutiny from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s office uncovered no illicit activity.

Now, prosecutors reveal that parts of their spin-off investigation have come to a close.

“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,” Pauley explained Wednesday. “Although the government agrees that the majority of the campaign finance portions of the materials may be unsealed, it requests limited redactions to those portions to protect third-party privacy interests.”

Pauley ordered the government to put those materials on the public docket on Thursday at 11 a.m.

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