Ex-Treasury employee busted with flash drive, pleads guilty to leaking Trump team info
Former Top Treasury Department Official Natalie Edwards pleads guilty in Manhattan federal court. She is responsible for conspiracy, leaking confidential banking reports of the members of current U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign. She had these files kept in a flash drive.
According to Fox News, Edwards was once a senior adviser at Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Prosecutors provided a timeline wherein her acts of crime started way back October 2017 where she continued to commit such actions for a year. She was sending all of these confidential files to a Buzzfeed News reporter, the files being termed as Suspicious Activity Reports of "SAR's." The process of these files starts when banks file for SARs with the Treasury Department. Once these transactions show signs of possible financial misconduct, federal law will strictly limit the disclosure.
The SARs related to the wire transfers by Paul Manafort and other figures found in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation including campaign official Richard Gates, Maria Butina and the Russian Embassy.
Once law enforcement found out about Edwards' actions, prosecutors have found her guilty of not only keeping confidential SARs, she was also responsible for keeping "highly sensitive materials" that are related to Russia, Iran and even the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. In the same article, prosecutors stated "Edwards is not known to be involved in any official FinCEN project or task bearing these file titles or code names."
In court, Edwards stated "I am sorry for what I have done and I apologize to you, your honor and the court." However, she defends her actions when she said,
You know, if I can't trust the government officials to handle this, I think I can trust the media to handle this and to bring to the attention of the American People."
This was what she said to her lawyer, Marc Agnifilo who came to her defense. She admits that she actually agreed to disclose the SARs, adding that she was no allowed under the law to disclose it. Agnifilo illustrates it as how "one's subjective motivations really do not serve as a defense." He also believes that prosecutors view Edwards' actions as a politically motivated one rather than that of a conception for the good of the republic. He disclosed Edwards being in contact with congressional subcommittees and others who worked in the government. However, he believes that these people did not deal with the information that Edwards offered as adequately as they should have.
BuzzFeed News reported all of Edwards' information. One of the articles headlined "GOP Operative Made 'Suspicious' Cash Withdrawals During Pursuit of Clinton emails" and during the Mueller investigation, the article "These 13 Wire Transfers Are A Focus of the FBI Probe into Paul Manafort." The evidences include photographs of these SARs and sending them through encrypted applications. A pen register and trap-and-trace order for Edwards' cellphone proved these to which she later confessed of doing so. The other things she did included sending and describing internal government emails of correspondence related to the reports, investigative memos and intelligence assessment that were published by the agency's intelligence division. Her defense was that she did not know the regulation.
Though conspiracy charge carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison, Edwards signed a guilty plea, escaping with a prison sentence of zero to six months.