Sen. Ron Wyden wants the government to explain why documents related to suspicious financial activity by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen have gone missing.
Records detailing financial transactions involving Trump lawyer Michael Cohen are missing from the Treasury Department's financial crimes database.
The records were reportedly in a database maintained by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), part of the Treasury.
According to a whistleblower who spoke to the New Yorker, the missing records are "suspicious activity reports" (SARs) filed by Cohen's bank, First Republic Bank. The bank referenced $3 million worth of such transactions.
Cohen used the account he had at First Republic for the front company he used to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels to keep silent about her affair with Trump. It was later revealed that Trump transferred money to Cohen to finance the payoff.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has made a formal request to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to find out why the records of Cohen's suspicious transactions are missing. In his letter, Wyden cites the New Yorker report and notes "a number of individuals with knowledge of this database" have indicated "that removal or sequestration of SARs is highly unusual if not unprecedented."
Wyden is asking the agency for documents related to Cohen's payments, whether the documents were removed, an explanation if they were removed, and copies of the guidelines used to administer the database.
At the same time, the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is making a request for an investigation by the Treasury Inspector General.
"There is reason to think that these SARs may be relevant to significant potential criminal conduct," CREW notes in a release, "and OIG should thoroughly investigate the possibility that the reports were improperly removed from FinCEN’s database."
CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said, "Interference with law enforcement processes for improper purposes could pose a threat to the rule of law, and any such risk to the ability of law enforcement agencies to protect the public must be addressed swiftly and strongly."
The financial transactions on the existing SAR that were released by the whistleblower exposed a cash for access scheme, in addition to the porn star slush fund. Those documents showed that Cohen accepted payments from AT&T and Novartis, which those companies later admitted were made in exchange for access to Trump.
The SARs also showed a payment to Cohen from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg of $500,000.
Relating to ongoing media inquiries about the missing files, a spokesperson for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said that access is limited to SARs while the people connected to them are involved in ongoing investigations. The agency did not address why the files appear to be missing.
Documents in a federal financial crimes database show records for Trump's personal lawyer mysteriously missing. Both a U.S. senator and a watchdog are demanding accountability and answers, while Trump and his team won't step up and be straight with America about their involvement in payoffs and kickbacks.