An ex-FinCEN official pleaded guilty to leaking documents to a reporter. Reports say she is a Trump supporter.
Summary List PlacementThe publication of leaked documents that detail $2 trillion in suspicious transactions that flowed through top international banks is igniting speculation over the source of the information. On Sunday, BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) jointly published a collection of files from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency that operates under the Treasury Department, that showed that top banks had engaged with dirty money for years. The documents have been named the "FinCEN Files." Neither BuzzFeed nor the ICIJ has explicitly commented on the identity of their source. But a former FinCEN official had pleaded guilty for leaking information to BuzzFeed which matches some content of the FinCEN leaks. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a former senior adviser at FinCEN, pleaded guilty in January 2020 to a Manhattan federal court for conspiring to send sensitive government information to a reporter. Prosecutors said at the time that Edwards' information was used in 12 articles published over a one-year period, according to court filings. The prosecutors did not name the outlet where the articles were published, but the headline and dates match those by BuzzFeed News. Prosecutors also did not name the reporter — calling them "Reporter-1" instead — but the articles cited in the court documents were written by Jason Leopold, who led the FinCEN project. BuzzFeed News led the investigation into the new leaks. Publications including Deutsche Welle and the ICIJ have suggested that Edwards may be a source.
The 12 articles named in the court filings had focused on suspicious financial transactions, including those linked to ongoing probe into allegations of Russian interference in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. BuzzFeed had provided 2,100 leaked "suspicious activity reports," or SARs, to the ICIJ as part of the "FinCEN Files" investigation. The ICIJ noted that Congress had requested some of the documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Edwards was attacked as a "deep state" operative After Edwards' guilty plea in January, Matt Wolking, a Trump campaign official, sought to characterize Edwards as part of a plot by the "deep state" to take down the president.
Another member of the Deep State goes down!Senior Treasury Department official Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards pleaded guilty to leaking sensitive information to the media in order to hurt Trump.Good riddance. pic.twitter.com/JlEYWXu1S0 — Matt Wolking (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@MattWolking) January 13, 2020
But according to reports in October 2018, when Edwards was arrested for the leaks, she was in fact a supporter who had shared pro-Trump messages on social media. Business Insider has attempted to reach Edwards for comment via her lawyers. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Edwards had "liked" a comment about former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal Trump critic, which called him a "paid political hack." DailyMail.com also reported at the time that Edwards had in Facebook posts defended Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh, during confirmation hearings where he was accused of sexual assault. The Journal reported that Edwards was not motivated by partisan ire, but that she leaked the information because she believed that sensitive data was being mishandled by another Treasury Department agency. According to the Associated Press (AP), Edwards told the court during her guilty plea: "I am sorry for what I have done and I apologize to you, your honor, and the court." She signed a plea deal in January that recommends a sentence of zero to six months in prison, the AP reported. Her conspiracy charge typically carries a punishment of up to five years. Read all of our reporting on the FinCEN files here»Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what you're actually seeing when you spot a meteor shower