FBI raids home of ex-Trump aide
President calls investigation ‘witch hunt’; Russia denies meddling
WASHINGTON — A raid on the Virginia home of US President Donald Trump’s former 2016 election campaign manager showed an investigation of possible ties between the campaign and Russia is intensifying and focused on the financial dealings of Trump associates, sources familiar with the probe said.
Longtime political consultant and lobbyist Paul Manafort is being investigated for possible money laundering and has been targeted as someone who might testify against former colleagues, said two people familiar with the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr Manafort’s residences,” Manafort’s spokesperson said in a statement.
“Mr Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” the statement said.
Manafort’s house in Alexandria, near Washington, was raided in the early morning of July 26, The Washington Post reported. The previous day Manafort met Senate Intelligence Committee staff, The Washington Post reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the probe.
Tax documents and financial records were sought by agents for Mueller in the raid, The New York Times reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Mueller’s team is poring over Manafort’s financial and real estate records in New York and his involvement in Ukrainian politics, the two sources told Reuters last month.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal called the raid a “highly significant step” and said it was “typical of the most serious criminal investigations dealing with uncooperative or untrusted potential targets”.
The FBI did not immediately return a request for comment. Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, declined to confirm the raid.
Trump has been attacking Blumenthal on Twitter this week after the senator urged Mueller to press his inquiry forward.
US intelligence agencies have claimed that Russia interfered in the presidential race, in part by hacking and releasing emails embarrassing to Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, to help him get elected in November.
Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt”. Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the US election.
Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well.” Paul Manafort’s spokesperson
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been trying to track money that Manafort used to buy properties in New York, and looking into millions of dollars of loans later taken out on the properties, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The prosecutor issued a subpoena to Federal Savings Bank, a small Chicago bank founded by a former Trump campaign adviser, and is interested in the loan paperwork, the person said.
It is unclear when the subpoena went out, but the first subpoenas in the probe went out months ago, the person said.
Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, declined to comment.
Steve Calk, the bank’s chairman and CEO, who was named to Trump’s economic advisory council during the campaign, declined to comment through a spokeswoman for the bank.