After the bombshell revelations about the payments made to President Trump’s personal fixer Michael Cohen by numerous “clients” — including one with links to a Russian oligarch — were released by Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti yesterday, the president is retaliating.
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According to The Washington Post, an investigation into the source of the leak of Cohen’s confidential banking information has been started by the Inspector General of the Treasury Department.
“Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said that in response to media reports the office is ‘inquiring into allegations’ that Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were ‘improperly disseminated,'” The Post reported.
Avenatti has been relentless in his allegations that there was more than initially met the eye to the suspicious activity surrounding Cohen’s finances after the Trump Organization lawyer claimed to have not been reimbursed for the $130,000 payment to keep Daniels silent about her carnal tryst with Trump.
His investigations in support of Daniels’ lawsuit asking to be released from her non-disclosure agreement resulted in the release of details of numerous payments made to Cohen by companies including AT&T, which is trying to gain the administration’s approval for its merger with Time Warner, and pharmaceutical giant Novartis, presumably for access to the president and “insight” into his thinking, in addition to the investment company Columbus Nova, the American affiliate of a company owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin.
Avenatti declined to name the source of his information, saying:
“The source or sources of our information is our work product, and nobody’s business. They can investigate all they want, but what they should be doing is releasing to the American public the three Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) filed on Michael Cohen’s account. Why are they hiding this information?”
Financial institutions file SARs with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in order to screen transactions for money laundering, terror financing, and other illegal behavior.
With Cohen’s own bank having flagged transactions in his account as unusual, Avenatti went on Twitter to demand the release of the SARs that the bank filed after noticing the questionable transactions in Cohen’s account.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 9, 2018
Speculation has it that Avenatti’s information came from the leak of at least one of the SARs he is advocating be made public.
“This has the appearance of a leak,” said Daniel P. Stipano, former deputy chief counsel in the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. “It shouldn’t happen, but things leak.”
Thousands of government and law enforcement personnel have access to the Treasury Department’s database of SARs, so there are many people who could have leaked the info.
“There’s been some criticism of our media strategy and how often I’m on CNN and how often I’ve been on your show and other networks. It’s working. It’s working in spades. Because we’re so out front on this, people send us information, people want to help our cause. People contact us with information.”
Now that the Trump administration is actively pursuing an investigation to try to find Avenatti’s “Deep Throat,” it is sending a clear warning to anyone else who may want to aid Daniel’s attorney by giving him even more incriminating evidence to think twice.
With the genie out of the bottle, however, and the SARs readily available to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, expect more rage and sleepless nights in the White House this week.
No wonder Trump is “wagging the dog” with the abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal right now; he needs every public distraction from the Russian collusion investigation that he can get at this point.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.