Feds end investigation into Trump Org and hush money payments

Drew Angerer  Getty Images FILE

Drew Angerer Getty Images FILE

New information about the USA investigation into campaign finance violations committed by Michael Cohen will be released Thursday after a judge in NY ordered prosecutors to disclose previously redacted material now that the investigation has concluded. A lawyer for Cohen could not immediately be reached.

Prosecutors in Manhattan notified U.S. District Judge William Pauley in a filing on Monday that the probe was over, according to an order issued by the judge Wednesday. FBI agents reportedly found a recording of a phone call between Cohen and a Trump inaugural committee vendor, which spawned the ongoing federal criminal probe into the President's inauguration.

CNN reported Friday that the Manhattan US Attorney's office had approached the end of its investigation of the Trump Organization and wasn't poised to charge any executives involved in the company's effort to reimburse Cohen for money he paid to silence one of the women.

Pauley said because prosecutors had informed him that their investigation of the payments was over, there was no reason to keep the documents secret. In denying that request, Pauley argued that "in particular - and in contrast to the private nature of Cohen's business transactions - the weighty public ramifications of the conduct described in the campaign finance portions warrant disclosure" and "the involvement of most of the relevant third-party actors is now public knowledge, undercutting the need for continued secrecy". "Now that the Government's investigation into these violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials".

The judge also ordered prosecutors to post redacted materials from the case, as well as an unredacted version of a status report that they submitted to the judge earlier this week, to the public docket by Thursday morning.

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Cohen pleaded guilty to a host of other wrongdoing, including lying to Congress about the pursuit of a Trump Tower project in Moscow, tax evasion and making a false statement to a bank. He began serving the sentence in May.

Pauley ordered the release of documents relating to hush-money payments by Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to two women who said they had sexual encounters years ago with the USA president, declaring the matter of 'national importance'. We have maintained from the outset that the President never engaged in any campaign finance violation, ' lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

Thirty Rockefeller Plaza is shown where Federal Bureau of Investigation officials reportedly raided the offices of Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in New York's Midtown Manhattan, April 9, 2018.

Federal prosecutors in NY have ended their investigation into the Trump Organization's role in hush money payments made to women who alleged affairs with President Donald Trump and have been ordered by a judge to release additional information connected to their related probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

However, the Justice Department has held that sitting presidents cannot be charged in the federal criminal justice system and instead can only be punished for misdeeds by Congress through the impeachment process. Alan Futerfas, an attorney for the Trump Organization, said he was reviewing the judge's order and declined further comment.

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