Back in April, the FBI raided the office, home, and hotel room of Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in search of business records, emails, and documents related to several subjects including a hush payment to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels.
Since then, Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress. Now, on Thursday,it was reported that a judge has ruled that the materials obtained in the raid must be released to the public with appropriate redactions.
Several media outlets had filed suit requesting that the documents be released under the First Amendment. They argued that it was in the public’s best interest because the subject matter “implicates the integrity of the 2016 presidential election.”
The government had tried to block their release saying that:
‘disclosure would jeopardize an ongoing investigation and prejudice the privacy rights of uncharged third parties.’
According to Bloomberg:
‘U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled Thursday on a request from media organizations seeking access to the documents. He gave the government until Feb. 28 to file the materials under seal, with the proposed redactions for him to review. The judge said he’d then order the documents to be made public.’
Judge Pauley said:
‘The public interest in the underlying subject matter of the materials — which implicates the integrity of the 2016 presidential election — is substantial.’
Pauley explained that releasing the documents with particular portions redacted strikes a balance between public access and prosecutors’ desire for confidentiality to protect its ongoing investigations.
Judge Pauley went on to say:
‘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.’
On August 21, Cohen pleaded guilty on seven counts including five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and two federal campaign finance violations.
Most recently, in November, Cohen pleaded guilty to to a single count of making false statements to Congress about a plan for a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
‘Pauley set May 15 for the government to identify, under seal, “the individuals or entities” whose identities will require to be kept secret.’
Cohen is also expected to appear before two congressional panels in connection with their investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was to testify in public before a third panel – the House Oversight Committee – but backed out at the end of January.
Trump has criticized Cohen for his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has referred to him as a “rat,” and suggested that his father-in-law be investigated.
Cohen also hired new attorneys in anticipation of the hearings. According to The Washington Post:
‘…Cohen is bringing on Michael Monico and Barry Spevack — two veteran Chicago-based lawyers from the firm Monico and Spevack — to replace Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, who had represented him as he went through proceedings in federal court in Manhattan.’
Here were a few comments from Twitter:
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