FBI seizure of Paul Manafort’s records sug­gests a fo­cus on fi­nan­cial wrong­do­ing in Rus­sia in­quiry.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Tanfani and Noah Bierman

WASH­ING­TON — An FBI raid last month at one of the homes of Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ager, Paul Manafort, pro­vides the clear­est ev­i­dence so far that spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III is ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cam­paign’s deal­ings with Rus­sia and that his in­quiry in­cludes pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial wrong­do­ing by Manafort.

Agents served a war­rant early in the morn­ing on July 26 at the Alexan­dria, Va., home of Manafort, ac­cord­ing to Ja­son Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, a lob­by­ist with a long back­ground of ties to pro-Rus­sia politi­cians.

“Mr. Manafort has con­sis­tently co­op­er­ated with law en­force­ment and other se­ri­ous in­quiries and did so on this oc­ca­sion as well,” Maloni said in a state­ment about the raid, first re­ported Wed­nes­day morn­ing by the Wash­ing­ton Post.

The search, con­ducted by FBI agents work­ing on the case su­per­vised by Mueller, sought records re­lated to for­eign bank ac­counts and for­eign regis­tra­tions, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to com­ment on the in­quiry.

The fed­eral Bank Se­crecy Act re­quires Amer­i­cans to file dis­clo­sure forms with the gov­ern­ment if they have for­eign bank ac­counts val­ued at more than cer­tain thresh­old amounts. Penal­ties for

vi­o­la­tion can run as high as 10 years in prison if the of­fense is es­pe­cially se­ri­ous.

The search showed that Mueller, who is work­ing with a grand jury in Wash­ing­ton, has amassed enough ev­i­dence to jus­tify a war­rant seek­ing records. Un­like sub­poe­nas, which a grand jury can is­sue, a war­rant re­quires pros­e­cu­tors to per­suade a judge that prob­a­ble cause ex­ists to be­lieve a crime may have been com­mit­ted.

The search pro­vides the first clear pub­lic con­fir­ma­tion that Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­cludes ques­tions about Manafort’s fi­nances. Manafort has not been ac­cused of any wrong­do­ing.

The spe­cific al­le­ga­tions that Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors are pur­su­ing are not known, but in ma­jor in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple po­ten­tial sub­jects, a stan­dard tech­nique is to use charges against some pos­si­ble per­pe­tra­tors to per­suade them to tes­tify against oth­ers.

The raid came on July 26, when Manafort was sched­uled to tes­tify be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, which is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Trump cam­paign’s pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with Rus­sian at­tempts to in­flu­ence the 2016 elec­tion. That ap­pear­ance was called off af­ter Manafort agreed to pro­vide the com­mit­tee with records. The pre­vi­ous day, he an­swered ques­tions from Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staff be­hind closed doors.

Manafort has con­tin­ued to co­op­er­ate with the ju­di­ciary panel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to com­mit­tee spokesman Ge­orge Hart­mann. Manafort’s lawyers turned over 400 pages of doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing his for­eign agent fil­ing, on Aug. 2, and are still dis­cussing the terms for a closed-door in­ter­view with com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The com­mit­tee also re­ceived 20,000 pages of records from the Trump cam­paign last week, along with 250 pages from Don­ald Trump Jr., Hart­mann said. The com­mit­tee is still seek­ing records from the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Peo­ple close to Manafort said the raid was un­nec­es­sary be­cause he had agreed to turn over his records.

A spokesman for Mueller de­clined to com­ment.

White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders de­clined to an­swer ques­tions about the search, re­fer­ring queries to Manafort’s at­tor­neys.

Manafort ran Trump’s cam­paign dur­ing the piv­otal pe­riod lead­ing up to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion last sum­mer. In June 2016, he at­tended a meet­ing at Trump Tower in New York that was set up by Don­ald Trump Jr. in an ef­fort to get re­search on Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton, which he had been told was pro­vided by the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment. “Rus­sia-Clin­ton-pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial,” read the sub­ject line in a emailed in­vi­ta­tion to the meet­ing that Trump Jr. for­warded to Manafort.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, also at­tended the meet­ing, along with Rus­sian lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya and four oth­ers, in­clud­ing a lob­by­ist who once worked with Soviet army in­tel­li­gence and a long­time aide to an in­flu­en­tial Rus­sian oli­garch.

Manafort has agreed to turn over notes of that meet­ing to con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Dur­ing the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion in Cleve­land, the Trump cam­paign worked to soften a plank in the party plat­form that orig­i­nally called for the U.S. to pro­vide weapons to Ukraine to fight pro-Rus­sia forces.

Manafort was forced to leave the cam­paign af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors in Ukraine said they were look­ing into al­le­ga­tions that he had been se­cretly paid more than $12 mil­lion by a po­lit­i­cal party con­nected to for­mer Ukraine Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich, a pro-Krem­lin fig­ure who was driven from of­fice by a pop­u­lar up­ris­ing in 2014.

Manafort, who worked for Yanukovich for more than a decade, an­nounced in April that he was be­lat­edly reg­is­ter­ing as a for­eign agent.

In ad­di­tion to al­le­ga­tions re­lated to the cam­paign and trans­ac­tions in­volv­ing Manafort’s work over­seas, the FBI has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing real es­tate deals in­volv­ing Manafort and son-in-law Jef­frey Yo­hai, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les ven­tures in­volv­ing ac­tor Dustin Hoffman and his son Ja­cob.

The FBI has spo­ken to Yo­hai in hopes he will co­op­er­ate and tes­tify against Manafort, said Maloni, Manafort’s spokesman. But he said the son-in-law had no in­for­ma­tion about Manafort’s other busi­ness deal­ings. A lawyer for Yo­hai de­clined to com­ment.

Justin Lane EPA

PAUL MANAFORT led Trump’s cam­paign un­til for­eign ties came to light.

Carolyn Kaster As­so­ci­ated Press

PAUL MANAFORT at the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion in Cleve­land last sum­mer. He had to leave the Trump cam­paign amid al­le­ga­tions that the pro-Krem­lin for­mer pres­i­dent of Ukraine had se­cretly paid him mil­lions.

Michael Reynolds Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

THE FBI re­port­edly seized doc­u­ments and other items from prop­erty be­long­ing to Manafort in Alexan­dria, Va., pos­si­bly his con­do­minium in this build­ing.


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