Judge Says SDNY Has Ended Trump Campaign Finance Probe, Orders Michael Cohen Records Unsealed
Chuck Ross on July 17, 2019
A federal judge on Wednesday confirmed that federal prosecutors in New York City have ended their investigation into Trump campaign finance violations, which focused on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization.
Judge William Pauley confirmed the end of the probe in an order to release the remaining files in the case against Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney who is serving a three-year prison term for several crimes.
The end of the investigation indicates that no additional Trump Organization executives — a group that includes Donald Trump Jr. — will be charged in the investigation, which was led by attorneys in U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York (SDNY).
CNN reported last week that prosecutors were winding down their investigation and were planning not to charge anyone else in the investigation.
Pauley’s order on Wednesday confirmed the reporting.
“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,” said Pauley, adding that “weighty public ramifications” of the activities described in the materials related to the campaign finance investigation warrants public disclosure.
Pauley had previously released some materials from the case, but withheld other documents at the request of federal prosecutors, who said they were still investigating the Trump Organization’s role in campaign finance violations.
The new order covers search warrant materials related to the campaign finance portion of the Cohen investigation, as well as a status report submitted by the government this month. The documents will be unsealed on Thursday morning, Pauley said.
Cohen pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2018 to tax evasion, bank fraud, and a campaign finance violation stemming from a $130,000 payment he made to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.
Prosecutors were investigating whether any other Trump Organization executives violated campaign finance law by repaying Cohen for his out-of-pocket expense. Cohen was reimbursed $420,000 by Trump Organization executives, as well as President Trump himself.
Pauley ordered some search warrant materials released on March 19. On May 21, he sided with the government’s request to keep additional records under seal, indicating that the investigation was still ongoing.
The investigation into Cohen kicked to the Southern District of New York by the special counsel’s office. The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room on April 9, 2018. He pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York on Aug. 21, 2018, and in the special counsel’s probe on Nov. 29, 2018. He admitted in the special counsel’s investigation to making false statements to Congress in 2017 about the extent of his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.