A high-ranking Treasury Department adviser pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Monday. She purposely leaked confidential banking documents to a BuzzFeed reporter.
Deep state operative Natalie Edwards was a senior adviser in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Apparently, she thought her position would make it easy to help remove President Donald Trump from the White House.
As described by prosecutors, starting in October of 2017, Edwards downloaded and transmitted “suspicious activity reports” linked to Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, the Russian embassy, convicted spy Maria Butina, and others.
BuzzFeed used the leaked information in articles about Robert Mueller’s witch-hunt into non-existent collusion between President Trump and Russia. Mueller’s final report admitted defeat, stating, “he had not found evidence of such coordination.” Gates succumbed to the torture and pleaded guilty to tax fraud just to get it over with. Manafort was convicted of financial fraud.
SAR reports, prosecutors explain, are “filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to flag for law-enforcement entities what they believe are possibly illegal transactions.”
The key words there are confidentially, flag and possibly. The reason why they are confidential is just because a transaction may look suspicious to the computer, it isn’t always illegal.
The unit that Edwards worked in was the central clearinghouse for the data. That’s where the Treasury Department “maintains a centralized database of such reports, which can be accessed by law enforcement for investigations and other matters.” Edwards used it like Google.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Ravener gave the judge a preview of the evidence they would have presented if they did end up going to trial. For starters, they had “Treasury records that show Edwards saved SARs to a flash drive.” Then they would lay out all the “numerous” encrypted conversations between Edwards and the reporter.
She entered a guilty plea on a single conspiracy charge before U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods in Manhattan. “I transmitted a file containing or disclosing the existence of a SAR. I am sorry for what I have done and I apologize to you, your honor, and the court.”
She still doesn’t really believe that what she did was wrong. When the Judge asked if she understood that what she did was illegal, Edwards hesitated. Her lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, came to her rescue, asking the judge, “Are there circumstances where one can believe they are doing a greater good by doing it than by not doing it?”
After the hearing, he clarified for reporters, “I think she was of the view that certain critical facts weren’t being handled the right way by the government agencies whose responsibility it is to handle these things. And so I think she did something that will be near and dear to all of your hearts, which is that she went to the media.”
Her sentencing hearing has been set for June 9. Her plea deal notes that if she gets a slap on the wrist sentence of six months or less, she waived the right to appeal. The maximum for the charge she faces is five years in federal prison.