Federal prosecutors in New York confirmed Thursday that the investigation that resulted in guilty pleas by President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen remains active, as does the grand jury involved in the investigation.
In a filing, which opposes the efforts by news media outlets to unseal search warrants that were executed against Cohen this spring, federal prosecutors in New York argued that making the documents public would reveal details of the ongoing investigation.
“This request encompasses materials that, if disclosed, would reveal a substantial amount of non-public, sensitive detail about an ongoing grand jury investigation, as well as information about numerous uncharged third parties,” lawyers from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York wrote in the filing.
The New York Times, backed by several other media organizations, has asked the court to unseal the Cohen warrants and related materials.
The New York Times’ request noted that the public interest in the case is “particularly high” because, the lawyer wrote, “The materials relate to the government’s criminal investigation of a person who was for a long time the personal lawyer to and close associate of the president of the United States. Mr. Cohen undertook some of his criminal conduct in his capacity as the president’s associate, and — he alleges — at his direction.”
The government also submitted a second filing on Thursday, under seal and only to the court, “identif[ying] specific portions of the warrant affidavits and other facts pertinent to the ongoing government investigation.”
Noting that submission, the federal prosecutors wrote in the public filing that “there is a significant interest in maintaining the materials under seal, because disclosure could prejudice an ongoing investigation in concrete, identifiable ways.”
Although Cohen had no formal cooperation agreement as part of his plea deal in August, he has reportedly spoken with state and federal prosecutors, including some from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, in the months since his plea.
The plea was, in part, a result of the fact that Cohen had set up a company in 2016 to pay hush money to an adult film star who claimed to have had a relationship with Trump more than a decade ago. That payment, to Stormy Daniels, formed the basis of a plea to one charge of making an excessive campaign contribution. He also pleaded guilty to causing an unlawful corporate contribution, the result of another payment to another woman. He also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion and one count of making false statements to a bank — relating, in part, to a home equity line of credit loan later used to pay Daniels.
The materials submitted in conjunction with Cohen’s plea referenced several unnamed people who prosecutors claimed had played key roles in the events that led to Cohen’s guilty pleas — the candidate for office, who Cohen identified as Trump; one or more unnamed campaign officials who discussed the payments with Cohen; Trump Organization employees who were later involved in repaying Cohen; and media executives who were involved in the efforts to prevent the women’s stories from becoming public.