Former Treasury employee jailed over Trump leaks
A former senior US Treasury Department official who pleaded guilty to conspiring to give a journalist sensitive information about former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, former senior advisor to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has been convicted by U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods in Manhattan.
Edwards has been charged with unauthorized disclosure of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) – used by banks to alert law enforcement to potential money laundering and other crimes – to a reporter of BuzzFeed News using an encrypted email program.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards leaves court after being sentenced to six months in prison for leaking confidential financial reports to a Buzzfeed reporter, Thursday, June 3, 2021, in New York City
Prosecutors said more than 2,000 leaked reports in a year involved Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, both of whom oversaw Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, as well as the Russian embassy in Washington and others.
The reports served as the basis for articles regarding former special adviser Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Edwards, 43, of Quinton, Va., Had asked for no jail time, after being indicted in October 2018 and pleaded guilty in January 2020.
Natalie Mayflower Edwards
Before being sentenced, she called herself a whistleblower who spoke to the media after discovering suspicious behavior elsewhere in the Treasury Department.
Citing principles of her Native American origin, she said before being sentenced that she could not “sit idly by” in silence, but apologized for her revelations.
Woods said “reporting through the proper channels is an incredibly valuable exercise,” but Edwards went too far in disclosing about 50,000 records, including SARs.
‘Dr. Sours Edwards has decided to abuse his position of trust, ”he said.
Woods said it should have been “exceptionally clear” that “breaking his oath and exposing sensitive law enforcement information that could be used to aid bad guys and tarnish the reputations and interests of innocent people was to be done. both illegal and bogus “.
Edwards called herself a whistleblower, but a federal judge said she “decided to abuse her position of trust”
Edwards admitted to leaking financial information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison
Other disclosures concerned former Trump deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, who cooperated with authorities in the Russia probe
Prosecutors said the more than 2,000 leaked reports in a year concerned Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, both of whom oversaw Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016
Federal Prosecutor Kimberly Ravener said Edwards ‘”widespread disclosure of private information” was “unprecedented” in FinCEN history and could have a chilling effect on banks’ willingness to file detailed SARs.
“She said she followed the procedure. But she made up hers, ”Ravener said.
Edwards was also sentenced to three years on probation. BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold has not been charged with wrongdoing. He kissed Edwards after meeting her outside the courthouse after the sentencing.
“I apologize for the disclosure of this information,” Edwards said before the sentencing.
She said she “couldn’t stay aimless,” Buzfeed reported.
Buzzfeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal condemned the conviction in a statement and called Edwards “a courageous whistleblower who has fought to warn the public of serious risks to the national security of the United States, d ‘first through the official whistleblower process, then through the press. “
An October 2017 Buzzfeed report identified 13 wire transfers totaling $ 3 million involving Manafort, who would later be sentenced to 7.5 years for bribery. President Trump pardoned him before stepping down.
The story contained detailed information about the transfers, including one by Global Endeavor, affiliated with Manafort, in 2013, to Konstantin Kilimnik, identified at the time as a “Kiev-based political operator”. Last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee identified Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer.