WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. judge is urging the Obama administration to protect from public disclosure federal court records related to the once-secret criminal history of a former Donald Trump business partner.
In a highly unusual order prompted by 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 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.
“It seems to me that the government has a unique interest in keeping documents that relate to cooperation agreements under seal,” the judge 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.”