After Months of Asking Who the Hell Leaked ‘Suspicious Activity Reports,’ DOJ Finds Goldmine in ‘Asshat’ Folder

Remember when President Donald Trump‘s ex-personal attorney Michael Cohen was thrust into the spotlight because Stormy Daniels‘ attorney Michael Avenatti stumbled upon some “suspicious activity reports” and put Cohen’s bank records out on social media? Remember when we were left to wonder who did it and the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury decided to investigate where the leak came from?

We still don’t know the answer to that mystery, but there was a major development on the Treasury leaking front Wednesday, as a senior advisor at FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) identified as Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, has been charged with conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports.

Cohen’s name didn’t come up, but the names of former Trump campaign manager (and convicted felon) Paul Manafort and Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates did, however.

Edwards is accused of disclosing SARs related to Manafort and Gates to a BuzzFeed reporter, starting in Oct. 2017. The feds say that Edwards saved a whopping 24,000 SARs on a department-issued thumb drive. The majority of these files were saved to a folder named “Debacle – Operation-CF,” which contained subfolders named “asshat,” “debacle,” and “emails.”

“Edwards is not known to be involved in any official FinCEN project or task bearing these file titles or code names,” the DOJ charging documents say. Edwards is accused of sending these SARs in encrypted messages that she saved and were thereby discoverable by the feds.

The flash drive also allegedly contained “highly sensitive material” regarding Russia, Iran, and ISIS.

According to NBC News, SARs also related to the Russian Embassy, accused Russian spy Maria Butina, and the company Prevezon Alexander were discovered.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman reacted to Edwards arrest in a statement.

“Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior-level FinCEN employee, allegedly betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information contained in Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to an individual not authorized to receive them,” Berman began. “SARs, which are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions, are not public documents, and it is an independent federal crime to disclose them outside of one’s official duties.

“We hope today’s charges remind those in positions of trust within government agencies that the unlawful sharing of sensitive documents will not be tolerated and will be met with swift justice by this Office,” he added.

Authorities say Edwards has been charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of SARs and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports. Each charge can be punished with five years of prison maximum.

Edwards allegedly confessed to giving the unidentified BuzzFeed reporter the SARs, but believed that reporter wouldn’t publish them.

[Image via PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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