DOJ investigating Avenatti leaks that led to discovery that Cohen was 'selling access' to the Trump White House
Former Trump "fixer" Michael Avenatti in Trump Tower (left, via Bryan R. Smith/AFP) and former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti (right, via screengrab).

The Justice Department is investigating the leak of confidential bank records belonging to former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen  — and were posted by Stormy Daniels' former attorney Michael Avenatti.


CNN reported Wednesday that sources with knowledge of the probe say the DOJ is undertaking a criminal investigation, led by prosecutors in the Northern District of California, to determine the source of the leaks that led to the exposure of Cohen's scheme to "sell access" to the White House.

Cohen's confidential records went public last year when Avenatti "posted a memo online outlining numerous payments to Cohen from a company linked to a Russian oligarch, pharmaceutical giant Novartis, AT&T" and others, the report noted.

The payments were made through Essential Consultants, LLC, the "shell company" Donald Trump's former lawyer used to make Daniels "hush money" payment.

Avenatti, CNN noted, has refused to disclose the source of the records — but has "repeatedly suggested" they were part of a suspicious activity report, or SAR.

"Banks file SARs with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to identify transactions that raise red flags about potential criminal activity," the report explained. "It is illegal for banks or federal employees to reveal the identity of a SAR or its contents."

This investigation may indicate that the DOJ "is stepping up scrutiny of disclosures of confidential bank records," CNN reported, adding that the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan charged a FinCen senior adviser with illegally leaking SARs of people tied to Trump to BuzzFeed News last year. That adviser has pleaded not guilty.