Judge To Release Materials From Cohen Warrant That Won’t Jeopardize Ongoing Probe

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer,  exits federal court after his sentencing hearing, December 12, 2018 in New York City. Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty in August to several charges, including multiple counts of tax evasion, a campaign finance violation and lying to Congress. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America

A New York federal judge has agreed to publicly release materials related to Michael Cohen’s search warrant — but will keep some details redacted to avoid unmasking subjects and evidence that prosecutors are still pursuing.

“At this stage, wholesale disclosure of the Materials would reveal the scope and direction of the Government’s ongoing investigation,” U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III wrote in an order filed Thursday. “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.”

Pauley’s order came in response to requests from publications including the New York Times, the Associated Press, ABC News, and the New York Daily News to unseal the documents that granted the FBI permission to raid Cohen’s office, home and hotel room on April 9, 2018.

The 30-page document grants in part and denies in part the request, stressing the need to balance the “strong presumption of access to search warrants” while protecting the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office ongoing investigation into matters stemming from the Cohen case. The court will release redacted documents after the government lays out which information should be kept under wraps, according to the judge’s order.

The judge makes a rather pointed reference to the “witness tampering, harassment, or retaliation” that cooperating witnesses can face if their identities are revealed.

Pauley acknowledges that the government is particularly concerned about jeopardizing their probe into matters “pertaining to or arising from Cohen’s campaign finance crimes,” related to hush money payments Cohen brokered to women on President Trump’s behalf.

Various publications have reported that the probe into criminal wrongdoing by Trump’s inaugural committee also grew out of materials seized in the raid on Cohen’s premises.

Pauley ordered the government to submit a sealed copy of the materials with proposed redactions by Feb. 28. He will assess the submissions and then have the documents filed on the public docket in redacted form.

Pauley also asked the government to submit a status report under seal by May 15 “identifying the individuals or entities subject to any ongoing investigations and explaining any need for continued redaction of the Materials.”

Read the full order from Pauley below.

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