CNN is reporting from three mystery sources that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had been under FISA court-ordered surveillance by the Obama FBI since 2014 in relation to his work with a pro-Russian former ruling party in Ukraine. Of note, Manafort’s firm worked with the Podesta group for the same client.
After the 2014 surveillance was discontinued due to lack of evidence, the FBI restarted the investigation after obtaining a new FISA warrant which extended into early 2017. The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower which included Manafort, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a handful of other people wasn’t surveilled, according to the report.
Given the revelations of ‘unmasking’ and the fact that surveillance of Trump associates meant anyone they were communicating with were also surveilled – including Trump, it appears that CNN has some crow to eat…
Trump: I was "wire tapped"
CNN: Haha. That idiot @realDonaldTrump thinks he was wiretapped.
..Six months later..
CNN: Trump was wiretapped
— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) September 19, 2017
The collusion ‘gotcha’
One of CNN’s mystery leakers says that intercepted communications show Manafort ‘encouraging the Russians to help with the [Trump] campaign,’ however two of the leakers say that evidence is not conclusive.
The details of Manafort’s communications have been apparently passed to FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Ongoing communications with Russia?
Apparently the FBI wasn’t just hot to trot over communications between Manafort and ‘suspected Russian operatives,’ but information gathered from surveilence of the Russians themselves.
According to CNN,
The FBI interest deepened last fall because of intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves, that reignited their interest in Manafort, the sources told CNN. As part of the FISA warrant, CNN has learned that earlier this year, the FBI conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Manafort. It’s not known what they found.
Manafort had previously denied ever “knowingly” communicating with Russian intelligence operatives during the election, and has denied any involvement in efforts to “undermine the interests of the United States.”
Threatened with indictment
The New York Times reports that during an early morning raid in July of this year of Manafort’s Virginia home, FBI investigators picked his locks to gain entry. Once inside, Mueller’s team took binders and copies of computer files in search of evidence that Manafort had established secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the suits in his closet.
On top of that, Manafort was reportedly threatened with indictment during the search. Via the NYT:
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.
The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election, according to lawyers, witnesses and American officials who have described the approach. Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.
The New York Times paints a surprisingly sympathetic picture of Manafort, while framing Mueller’s tactics as ‘strongarm’ and aggressive.
“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “You want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.’”
Chipping away at the periphery
While Manafort hasn’t been indicted as threatened in July, his associates have received a far more intensive investigation from Mueller’s team. Per the NYT, “Instead of invitations to the prosecutor’s office, they have been presented with grand jury subpoenas, forcing them to either testify or take the Fifth Amendment and raise suspicions that they had something to hide. At least three witnesses have recently been subpoenaed to testify about Mr. Manafort: Jason Maloni, a spokesman who appeared before the grand jury for more than two hours on Friday, and the heads of two consulting firms — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group — who worked with Mr. Manafort on behalf of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russia former president of Ukraine.”
“Mr. Mueller’s team also took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena to Melissa Laurenza, a specialist in lobbying law who formerly represented Mr. Manafort, according to people familiar with the subpoena. Conversations between lawyers and their clients are normally considered bound by attorney-client privilege, but there are exceptions when lawyers prepare public documents that are filed on behalf of their client.” –NYTIf you enjoy the content at iBankCoin, please follow us on Twitter