Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of President Donald Trump, departs the U.S. Capitol after testifying before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 28, 2019.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Federal prosecutors in New York have ended their campaign finance investigation into hush money payments arranged by President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to two women who claim they had sex with Trump, a judge revealed Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley also ordered Wednesday that materials related to the probe of Cohen and those payments should be unsealed — and denied a request by prosecutors to keep certain portions blacked out.
Pauley ordered that related materials and a recent status report from the prosecutors, which are currently sealed from public view, be made public in U.S. District Court in Manhattan at 11 a.m. ET Thursday.
While prosecutors agreed that the “majority of the campaign finance portions of the Materials may be unsealed,” they wanted some portions of the materials kept hidden, according to the judge.
“The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance,” he 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.”
It was not clear if the move by prosecutors to end the campaign finance probe of Cohen meant that no other charges would be lodged in connection with the hush money payments. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment and deferred to the publicly filed documents. Cohen’s spokesman, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.
Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement: “We are pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed. We have maintained from the outset that the President never engaged in any campaign finance violation.”
“Another case is closed,” Sekulow added.
Cohen, 52, is serving three-year prison sentence for crimes that include facilitating the hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, as well as other financial crimes, and lying to Congress.
He personally paid Daniels $130,000 on the eve of the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her agreement to keep quiet about her alleged tryst with Trump a decade earlier, on the heels of his wife Melania giving birth to their son.
Cohen also arranged for the publisher of the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 in the months leading up to the election. McDougal claims she had an affair with Trump.
The president has denied having sex with either Daniels or McDougal.
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, poses for pictures at the end of her striptease show in Gossip Gentleman club in Long Island, New York, February 23, 2018.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
The disgraced and now-disbarred lawyer has said he arranged both payments at the behest of Trump in order to avoid a public scandal that could harm his chances of winning the election against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors late last year revealed that they had signed a nonprosecution agreement with the Enquirer’s then-publisher, American Media Inc., in exchange for the company’s cooperation with their campaign finance violation probe.
Vanity Fair magazine reported last August that Trump friend David Pecker, the then-chairman of AMI, had personally received an immunity agreement from prosecutors, as had AMI’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard.
FBI agents raided Cohen’s apartment, hotel room and office in April 2018, collecting troves of records and electronic devices. Some of those materials were made public with redacted portions in March 2019.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are still reportedly investigating spending by Trump’s inaugural committee.
Read the judge’s order in Cohen’s case below:
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