Michael Cohen search warrants ordered released
A federal judge in New York on Thursday ordered the government to release search warrants and other materials used to authorize the raid on properties owned by President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III granted part of a request made by nine media organizations to release the materials.
“The public interest in the underlying subject matter of the Materialswhich implicates the integrity of the 2016 presidential election is substantial,” he wrote in a 30-page opinion.
He said some of the documents must remain secret because making them public could jeopardize ongoing investigations, “including those pertaining to or arising from Cohen’s campaign finance crimes.”
That appears to indicate that federal prosecutors are still investigating crimes related to Cohen’s hush payments to two women who have alleged affairs with Mr. Trump.
The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Newsday, and ABC were among the outlets that had petitioned for the release of materials.
Government lawyers opposed the motion, saying it would interferewith an ongoing investigation and prejudice the privacy rights of uncharged third parties.
David E. McCraw, vice president and deputy general counsel for the New York Times said the paper was pleased with the decision.
“While we don’t know how extensive the court-approved redactions will be, we are confident that the release of materials will shed light on the investigations involving Mr. Cohen,” he said in a statement.
Prosecutors must submit a sealed copy of the materials with proposed redactions by Feb. 28. They must also submit a status report under seal by May 15 explaining the need for certain materials to remain redacted and identify anyone related to the ongoing investigations.
Judge Pauley ordered the government to redact details about the campaign finance charges, saying wholesale disclosure of the materials would reveal the scope and direction of the government’s ongoing campaign finance investigation.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to two campaign finance violations and other crimes, including lying to Congress. He arranged a $150,000 payment to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and another $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels using a phony home equity loan, according to court documents.