FBI raids home of ex-Trump aide

Pres­i­dent calls in­ves­ti­ga­tion ‘witch hunt’; Rus­sia de­nies med­dling

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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

Fi­nances scru­ti­nized

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.

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