Judge: Michael Cohen campaign finance probe over

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FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York. Federal prosecutors have told a judge in New York Wednesday, July 17, 2019, that they have concluded their investigation into campaign finance violations committed by Cohen. U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said that the conclusion of the case clears the way for the public release of sealed search warrant materials dealing with the investigation. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have told a judge in New York they have concluded their investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The closure of the case is the strongest suggestion yet that prosecutors decided not to bring criminal charges against anyone besides Cohen in the scheme to protect Trump’s reputation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III made the disclosure in a court filing Wednesday as part of a legal fight over whether to unseal search warrant materials dealing with the investigation.

For months, prosecutors had asked that the documents remain sealed because they were still probing payments Cohen helped orchestrate to two women — porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal — who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

While Cohen had pleaded guilty, others involved in the payments remained uncharged, including Trump himself as well as executives at the Trump Organization.

Now, though, prosecutors have informed the court that they’ve concluded the investigation, clearing the way for the release of documents related to the case.

The judge rejected a request by prosecutors to black out portions of the documents to protect third-party privacy interests, saying the records involved 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,” Pauley wrote.

He ordered the government to put the search warrant records related to searches of Cohen’s residence and office in the public record by 11 a.m. Thursday.

Pauley said the record should be “unredacted in its entirety” except for limited references in a footnote to an uncharged third-party and the names of law enforcement investigators, references to individuals purportedly engaged in business transactions or contemplated business transactions with Cohen relating to his taxi business.

Pauley said he based his conclusions on a report he received from prosecutors on Monday.

“The Government now represents that it has concluded the aspects of its investigation that justified the continued sealing of the portions of the Materials relating to Cohen’s campaign finance violations,” Pauley wrote.

In December, Pauley sentenced Cohen to three years in prison after the longtime personal lawyer to Trump pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and other charges.

He began serving the sentence in May.

Trump denied any sexual relationship with Daniels and McDougal and said that any payments made to them were private in nature and not related to his campaign.

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