- Brendan McDermid/Reuters
- A Treasury Department inspector general report claimed that leaked sensitive financial records related to Michael Cohen’s business dealings were handled properly by the agency.
- The inspector general is still looking into how exactly some of President Donald Trump’s former lawyer’s records, known as Suspicious Activity Reports, were disclosed.
- The documents were first disclosed by Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, in May.
A Treasury Department inspector general report claimed that leaked sensitive financial records related to President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer’s business dealings were handled properly by the agency, ABC News reported.
But the inspector general is still looking into how some of Michael Cohen’s records, known as Suspicious Activity Reports, were disclosed.
Some of the records were first made public in May when Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, released them. The financial documents showed companies paid Cohen lucrative sums in exchange for his services following the presidential election.
Companies like telecom giant AT&T, pharma’s Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries, and the Russian-tied investment firm Columbus Nova confirmed that they paid Cohen millions for his advising services. The companies paid Cohen at least $1.2 million through his company, Essential Consultants LLC, which Cohen also utilized to pay Daniels a $130,000 hush-money payment prior to the 2016 presidential election. Daniels has alleged she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which the president denies.
In the days following Avenatti’s revelation of the documents, The New Yorker spoke with the government official who claimed to have leaked the information. The official said he did so because he said other documents related to Cohen’s dealings were missing from the Treasury Department’s FinCen database, the place where Suspicious Activity Reports are stored.
But according to the ABC News report, the Treasury watchdog found that the records were not removed from the database, but rather put under restricted access. That was consistent with department policy on matters tied to ongoing law enforcement investigations.
Cohen, who worked for Trump over the past decade, is the focus of a federal criminal investigation into whether he committed campaign-finance violations, bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal lobbying, or other crimes. The FBI raided his home, office, and hotel room in April, seizing roughly 4 million documents.
The probe into illegal lobbying could well be connected to the contents of the leaked documents, since Cohen did not disclose the payments. Since Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, he could be in violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act for payments from domestic sources or the Foreign Agents Registration Act for foreign sources of such money, experts say.
The inspector general probe was first opened in May following the disclosure of the documents.