NEW YORK (AP) — The lawyer for a Treasury Department worker accused of leaking confidential banking reports of suspects in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe said Friday that a “see something, say something” defense might be used at trial.
Attorney Marc Agnifilo spoke after his client, Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, made her initial appearance in a New York City federal courtroom.
“We’re in the city that invented if you see something say something and that’s her defense,” Agnifilo told reporters.
Edwards is on administrative leave with pay from her job as a senior official in the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN, after her arrest last month.
Prosecutors said she leaked several confidential suspicious activity reports to a journalist.
The government said the material included reports on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a political consultant, along with a woman charged with trying to infiltrate U.S. political organizations as a covert Russian agent.
Agnifilo said his client pleaded not guilty at an earlier court proceeding in Virginia to charges of conspiracy and making an unauthorized disclosure of suspicious activity reports.
Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department when they spot transactions that raise questions about possible financial misconduct such as money laundering.
Agnifilo said she “saw things in her official capacity that she felt an obligation to bring forward.”
He added: “She believes that certain pieces of information were not being handled the right way and brought to the attention of the people who should know it.”
He said the charges against the lifelong public servant resulted because the government “cherry picked” facts to focus on. In court papers, federal authorities said that Edwards, when confronted by federal agents, described herself as a whistleblower and said she gave reports to a reporter for “record-keeping.”
“She stood to make no money from this,” Agnifilo said, adding that it also would not bring her “privilege, power or status” in her work.
The lawyer said Edwards believed that if certain information was being withheld from the press and other public officials, then she had a duty to let them know.
The case, he said, raised an important question: “Is she trying to hurt the government or help the country?”
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