THE WHITE HOUSE — After the Southern District of New York (SDNY) halted for unknown reasons any further investigation into hush-money payments by Michael Cohen to women claiming they had slept with President Donald Trump, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III of the SDNY ordered prosecutors to release an unredacted tranche of documents related to the case by 11 a.m. today, which they did.
After the government had sought to redact much of the material, Judge Pauley responded with an order reading in part, “After reviewing the Government’s status report and proposed redactions, this Court denies the Government’s request. 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.”
Pauley warned, “The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance. Now that the Government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials.”
The materials reveal that Cohen and Trump spoke before and after — within minutes — of Cohen’s payment of $130,000 to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels.
The documents also disclosed that Hope Hicks, who was then a campaign aide of Hicks, was involved in a phone conference call with both men around the same time the payment arrangements were being made. The FBI said in Hicks called Cohen on Nov. 8, 2016 and Trump joined the call a few seconds later. After about four minutes, Trump hung up and Cohen and Hicks continued talking for about two more minutes before the call ended, according to the documents
In testimony last month before the House Judiciary Committee, Hicks — who later became the White House communications director — denied three times that she was ever present when Cohen and Trump were making payment arrangements to Daniels. Hicks left her job in late March 2018.
Doug Christian, The White House