Hard t believe that a major real estate developer in New York or New Jersey hasn’t had at least some contact or interface with the mob. Not that said contact necessarily means the developer has done anything wrong. In the context though or “following the money” on the Drumph…There very likely are going to be some cracks in the facade.
A federal judge has asked the Obama administration to shield from public disclosure court records related to the once-secret criminal history of a former Donald Trump business partner.
In an unusual order prompted by an unsealing request from The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan said that unless the Justice Department acts before April 18, he will decide whether to make the court files public under the assumption that federal prosecutors don’t care.
The case involves Felix Sater, a Trump business associate who had pleaded guilty in a major Mafia-linked stock fraud scheme in the late 1990s and cooperated with the government. The AP reported in December that, even after learning about Sater’s background, Trump tapped Sater for a business development role in 2010 that included the title of senior adviser to Trump. Sater received Trump Organization business cards and was given an office within the Trump Organization’s headquarters, on the same floor as Trump’s own.
Sater’s criminal past initially drew attention because of his ties to Trump, now the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. But legal disputes over information related to Sater’s efforts to cooperate with the government — which was ongoing during the period he worked with Trump — also raises questions about court secrecy.
“It seems to me that the government has a unique interest in keeping documents that relate to cooperation agreements under seal,” Cogan wrote in his order. “The government should speak and assert its position as to whether the public’s right to access each document in the record is outweighed by a compelling need for secrecy.”
Lawyers for the AP had asked the judge to justify sealing a five-year criminal contempt proceeding in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Not only did Cogan seal all documents in the contempt case, he also initially sealed the AP’s request that he unseal his justification for their sealing. When The New York Times asked the judge to unseal the AP’s request to unseal the sealing order, that request was sealed, too. Late last week, he made the requests by the AP and the newspaper publicly accessible — but ordered that the parties to the case file any response to them under seal.
The defendants in the contempt case, Frederick Oberlander and Richard Lerner, are attorneys whom the government said revealed once-secret court records about Sater’s crimes and cooperation. Sater’s lawyers, who once included Leslie Caldwell, now the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, have said that Sater’s cooperation was vital to national security and disclosures about his past put him in danger.
Oberlander and Lerner said they never revealed sealed records. Some of what they had been ordered not to disclose is already publicly available in the Congressional Record, they said.
“We wish that people could inspect the documents, because it would reveal judicial and prosecutorial misconduct of the highest levels,” Oberlander told the AP.