As reported in the New Yorker, The still-unnamed whistleblower who leaked the financial records of Trump’s personal lawyer decided to do so after discovering that very important had somehow disappeared from a government database.
The files in questions are called “Suspicious Activity Reports” or SARs. These are a type of transactional bank record. which must be completed and submitted whenever any transaction that could potentially violate federal law is detected, or in the event that a transaction might be linked to other activities such as money laundering. SARs are then stored on a database managed by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and can be accessed by law enforcement and federal officials.
The whistleblower told Ronan Farrow that he grew “worried” when he was unable to find two SARs on attorney Michael Cohen’s financial dealings in the database. This is what compelled him to act.
“I have never seen something pulled off the system. That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.”
To say that the newly revealed information surrounding Cohen’s finances created a firestorm would be to put it mildly. The past or so, dozens of legal and banking experts have been in the media expressing awe at the scope, as well as the audacity of Cohen to have assumed he wouldn’t get caught.
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) May 16, 2018
AT&T and Novartis have been doing damage control as it was revealed they had been paying Cohen from the Trump candidacy forward for “consultancy” of unknown detail. The fact that the money gained from the companies would later end up in the same shell company Cohen used to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels was… not a good look.
AT&T released a statement: “Essential Consultants was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration.” They also added that their “contract with Cohen had expired in December 2017.
As for Novartis — the company admitted it had a $1.2 million contract with Cohen’s company at the start of Trump’s presidency.Novartis general counsel Felix Ehrat resigned from the company on Wednesday, though he said, “Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error.”