FBI raided home of former Trump aide
Search part of probe into Russia’s meddling in presidential election.
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.