FBI raided home of for­mer Trump aide

Search part of probe into Rus­sia’s med­dling in pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Carol D. Leon­nig, Tom Ham­burger and Rosalind S. Hel­der­man

FBI agents raided the Alexan­dria, Va., home of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man late last month, us­ing a search war­rant to seize doc­u­ments and other ma­te­ri­als, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion.

Fed­eral agents ap­peared at Paul Manafort’s home with­out ad­vance warn­ing in the pre-dawn hours of July 26, the day af­ter he met vol­un­tar­ily with the staff for the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

The search war­rant was wide-rang­ing and FBI agents work­ing with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller de­parted the home with var­i­ous records. Ja­son Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, con­firmed that agents ex­e­cuted a war­rant at one of the po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant’s homes and that Manafort

co­op­er­ated with the search.

Manafort has been vol­un­tar­ily pro­vid­ing doc­u­ments to con­gres­sional com­mit­tees in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The search war­rant in­di­cates in­ves­ti­ga­tors may have ar­gued to a fed­eral judge they had rea­son to be­lieve Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in re­sponse to a grand jury sub­poena — and that there is prob­a­ble cause to be­lieve a crime was com­mit­ted.

The raid could also have been in­tended to send a mes­sage to Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man that he should not ex­pect gen­tle treat­ment or le­gal cour­te­sies from Mueller’s team.

The doc­u­ments seized in­cluded ma­te­ri­als Manafort had al­ready pro­vided to Congress, said peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the search.

“If the FBI wanted the doc­u­ments, they could just ask (Manafort) and he would have turned them over,” said one ad­viser close to the White House.

Josh Stueve, spokesman for Mueller, de­clined to com­ment, as did Regi­nald Brown, an at­tor­ney for Manafort.

“Mr. Manafort has con­sis­tently co­op­er­ated with law en­force­ment and other se­ri­ous in­quiries and did so on this oc­ca­sion as well,” said Maloni, the spokesman for Manafort.

Mueller has in­creased le­gal pres­sure on Manafort, con­sol­i­dat­ing un­der his author­ity a se­ries of un­re­lated in­ves­ti­ga­tions into var­i­ous as­pects of Manafort’s pro­fes­sional and per­sonal life.

Manafort’s al­lies fear that Mueller hopes to build a case against Manafort un­re­lated to the 2016 cam­paign, in hopes that the for­mer cam­paign op­er­a­tive will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion against oth­ers in Trump’s in­ner cir­cle in ex­change for less­en­ing his own le­gal ex­po­sure.

The sig­nif­i­cance of the records seized from Manafort’s apart­ment is un­clear.

Manafort has pro­vided doc­u­ments to both the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and the Se­nate and House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees. The doc­u­ments are said to in­clude notes Manafort took while at­tend­ing a meet­ing with Don­ald Trump Jr. and a Rus­sian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Emails show Trump Jr. sched­uled the meet­ing and in­vited Manafort af­ter he was promised the lawyer would de­liver dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton as part of a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment ef­fort to as­sist his fa­ther’s cam­paign.

Manafort also has been a sub­ject of a long­stand­ing FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his deal­ings in Ukraine and work for the coun­try’s for­mer pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych.

Manafort, who led the Trump cam­paign for sev­eral months, has de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Word of the raid is the lat­est rev­e­la­tion about Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which had been op­er­at­ing in rel­a­tive se­crecy com­pared with nu­mer­ous con­gres­sional probes look­ing at the elec­tion. In re­cent days, it has be­come clear the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor is us­ing a grand jury in Wash­ing­ton in ad­di­tion to one in the Eastern District of Vir­ginia, where in­ves­ti­ga­tors also have been look­ing into for­mer Trump na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn.

Also, FBI agents have been ask­ing wit­nesses since the spring about $530,000 worth of lob­by­ing and in­ves­tiga­tive work car­ried out by Flynn’s firm, Flynn In­tel Group, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. That work sought the ex­tra­di­tion of an ex­iled Turk­ish cleric liv­ing in the U.S. Through his at­tor­ney, Flynn has de­clined to com­ment on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The per­son, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss the sen­si­tive de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said FBI agents have also been ask­ing about Flynn’s busi­ness part­ner, Bi­jan Kian, who served on the Trump pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion team. Kian has not re­sponded to mul­ti­ple at­tempts to con­tact him over sev­eral months.

Paul Manafort was Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man.


Paul Manafort also has been a sub­ject of a long­stand­ing FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his deal­ings in Ukraine and work for the coun­try’s for­mer pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych. Manafort de­nies any wrong­do­ing.

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