Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have been ordered to publicly release partially redacted versions of search warrants federal authorities used last April to search and seize material from the apartment and offices of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer.”
U.S. District Judge William Pauley III of the Southern District of New York issued an order Monday for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to file the redacted copies of the search warrant materials to the pubic docket by Tuesday. Pauley approved the ex parte material previously submitted by the government. The documents will be scrubbed of Cohen and others’ personal information, including email addresses and phone numbers.
Pauley’s order to release the documents is a win for a group of media organizations that include The Associated Press, The New York Times and CNN, which petitioned the court for access to the material that authorized the government’s April 2018 search.
The material seized by the government was subjected to an extended legal struggle, initiated by Cohen shortly after the warrants were executed. A special monitor was installed by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood to handle the review of the seized material for privilege and confidentiality concerns. The vast majority of the material seized relevant to the government’s investigation into Cohen was ultimately handed over to prosecutors.
The documents seized by Manhattan federal authorities led directly to Cohen’s eventual August guilty plea before Pauley in the Southern District of New York to a host of charges. These included campaign finance violations in connection with the hush payment paid to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who performed under the name Stormy Daniels, tax dodging, and making false statements related to a home equity loan.
The news organization subsequently sought the unsealing of the search warrants, as well as the supporting material. Manhattan prosecutors opposed the move, citing the need for secrecy as part of an ongoing investigation, among other reasons. On Feb. 7, Pauley ordered the government to provide its ex parte copy of the material by the end of that month, with proposed redactions.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to comment on the order.
The media companies are represented by Davis Wright Tremaine partner Rachel Strom. She did not immediately reply to a request for comment.