As you review this story keep in the back of your mind that U.S. DC Attorney Jessie Liu has been recently moved to head the Financial Crimes Division of the Treasury Department.
CTH noted last year when John Fry, an intelligence analyst with the IRS’s law enforcement arm, was arrested that something more was happening in the background of his case and the DOJ case against Natalie Sours-Edwards. Today Ms. Sours-Edwards pleads guilty to downloading & distributing the financial records of people connected to the Trump orbit.
You might remember back in May 2018 when sketchy porn lawyer Michael Avenetti was releasing U.S. Treasury notifications on Michael Cohen received from an unknown source within the Treasury Department [See Here]. You might also remember when New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow wrote a sympathetic article after talking to the leaking treasury official [See Here]. As a result the Treasury Inspector General began an investigation.
(VIA DOJ) Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards Illegally Repeatedly Transmitted SARs and Other Sensitive Government Information To A Reporter Resulting In Approximately 12 News Articles Over 1-Year Period.
Ms. Sours-Edwards, a former senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), pled guilty today to conspiring to unlawfully disclose Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”).
Beginning in approximately October 2017, and lasting until her arrest in October 2018, EDWARDS agreed to and did unlawfully disclose numerous SARs to a reporter (“Reporter-1”), the substance of which were published over the course of approximately 12 articles by a news organization for which Reporter-1 worked (“News Organization-1”).
The illegally disclosed SARs pertained to, among other things, Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, the Russian Embassy, Maria Butina, and Prevezon Alexander.
EDWARDS had access to each of the pertinent SARs and saved them – along with thousands of other files containing sensitive government information – to a flash drive provided to her by FinCEN. She transmitted the SARs to Reporter-1 by means that included taking photographs or images of them and texting the photographs or images to Reporter-1 over an encrypted application.
In addition to disseminating SARs to Reporter-1, EDWARDS sent or described to Reporter-1 internal FinCEN emails or correspondence appearing to relate to SARs or other information protected by the BSA, and FinCEN nonpublic memoranda, including Investigative Memos and Intelligence Assessments published by the FinCEN Intelligence Division, which contained confidential personal information, business information, and/or security threat assessments.
At the time of EDWARDS’s arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1. (read more)
There is so much sketchy about all of this – it is difficult to know where to begin.
[Sidebar Question: In 2017 how would Mrs. Sours-Edwards know to search and download the financial records of Maria Butina? …I digress]
First, within the current DOJ press release there is no identification of Mrs. Edwards co-conspirator. Mrs. Edwards was a “senior official”; however, within the original indictment there was clearly a supervisor who was working with her: [Pg 13]
Second, based on the information from 2018 CTH was able to identify that at least one part of Ms. Sours-Edwards leaking was a series of financial records identical to those sent to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
[May 2018] Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee told reporters Thursday that his committee also had gotten the Treasury Department data. (read more)
Which begs the question: Was Ms. Edwards alone in leaking the financial records, or did both the SSCI and Ms. Edwards leak that material to the media?
Why is this question important?…. Because it will determine what happens with her plea. There is a decent likelihood, perhaps even a strong likelihood, Ms. Edwards will benefit from the same issue that protected SSCI Security Director James Wolfe.
Watch the plea process closely. If my hunch is correct, the DOJ will touch Ms Edwards very lightly in their sentencing recommendation as they did with James Wolfe.
Thirdly, along the lines of the SSCI and the DOJ sentencing, it does not go unnoticed that former FBI Director James Comey’s daughter, Maurene Comey, is the SDNY prosecutor in this case.
…”This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly J. Ravener, Daniel C. Richenthal, and Maurene R. Comey are in charge of the prosecution.”… (link)
Lastly, few things shock me upon follow-up review; however, this statement:
…”The illegally disclosed SARs pertained to, among other things, Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, the Russian Embassy, Mariia Butina, and Prevezon Alexander. EDWARDS had access to each of the pertinent SARs and saved them – along with thousands of other files containing sensitive government information“…
I find the “thousands of other files” to be particularly noteworthy.
I would not be surprised to discover those files would include President Trump’s tax records; and/or the records of his business and family interests.
What exactly did Ms. Edwards extract, download and leak?
Perhaps that’s why U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu was moved into the Treasury Dept (?).
As we noted last year, it is highly likely Ms. Edwards was the Treasury Department source for a myriad of resistance articles written by multiple journalists. Some of the more transparently obvious examples come from Buzzfeed via Jason Leopold, in addition to Ronan Farrow:
October 6th, 2017 – The Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has been illegally rifling through and filing away the private financial records of US citizens, Treasury employees alleged. “This is such an invasion of privacy,” said one official. (read more)
October 29th, 2017 – BuzzFeed News has learned of a series of wire transfers, made by companies linked to Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, that federal officials deemed suspicious. Many of the wires went from offshore companies controlled by Manafort to American businesses. (read more)
May 16th, 2018 – Ronan Farrow […] there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation. (read more)
Keep an eye on the sentencing phase for Ms. Sours-Edwards. I suspect we have not seen the end of this story….