FBI raided, seized files from Manafort’s home

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Carol D. Leon­nig, Tom Ham­burger, Rosalind S. Hel­der­man, Philip Rucker, Matt Zapo­to­sky and Julie Tate of The Wash­ing­ton Post; by Michael S. Sch­midt and Adam Gold­man of The New York Times; by Chad Day and Er

FBI agents raided the Alexan­dria, Va., home of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ager late last month, us­ing a war­rant to search for tax doc­u­ments and for­eign bank­ing records, 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 warn­ing in the predawn hours of July 26, the day af­ter he met vol­un­tar­ily with the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staff.

The search war­rant was wide-rang­ing, and FBI agents work­ing with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller left the home with var­i­ous records.

The use of a search war­rant in­di­cates that law en­force­ment of­fi­cials have con­vinced a judge that there is prob­a­ble cause to be­lieve a crime may have been com­mit­ted. The raid, which comes as Manafort has been co­op­er­at­ing with con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors and has

turned over hun­dreds of pages of doc­u­ments, could in­di­cate that law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties were look­ing for records be­yond what Manafort has pro­vided, ac­cord­ing to some an­a­lysts.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors in the Rus­sia in­quiry have pre­vi­ously sought doc­u­ments with sub­poe­nas, which are less in­tru­sive and con­fronta­tional than a search war­rant. With a war­rant, agents can in­spect a phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion and seize any use­ful in­for­ma­tion.

Ja­son Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, con­firmed that FBI agents ex­e­cuted a war­rant at one of the po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant’s homes. He also re­it­er­ated that Manafort has “con­sis­tently co­op­er­ated with law en­force­ment and other se­ri­ous in­quiries and did so on this oc­ca­sion as well.”

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

U.S. Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, D-Conn., a mem­ber of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and a for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney, called the search “a sig­nif­i­cant and even stun­ning de­vel­op­ment,” not­ing that such raids are gen­er­ally re­served for “the most se­ri­ous crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions deal­ing with un­co­op­er­a­tive or un­trusted po­ten­tial tar­gets.”

Ja­cob Frenkel, a for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, said the raid “adds a shock and awe en­force­ment com­po­nent to what un­til now has fol­lowed a nat­u­ral path for a white-col­lar

in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

“More so than any­thing else we’ve seen so far, it re­ally does send a pow­er­ful law en­force­ment mes­sage when the search war­rant is used. … That mes­sage is that the spe­cial coun­sel team will use all crim­i­nal in­ves­tiga­tive tools avail­able to ad­vance the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as quickly and as com­pre­hen­sively as pos­si­ble,” Frenkel said.

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’s be­come clear that in his in­ves­ti­ga­tion, for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor Mueller 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.

Manafort, a long­time po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive who was once a busi­ness part­ner of Trump con­fi­dante Roger Stone, was hired to pro­fes­sion­al­ize the Trump cam­paign at the rec­om­men­da­tion of an­other Trump friend, Tom Bar­rack, an in­ter­na­tional real es­tate in­vestor.

As a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant, Manafort trav­eled the world, at times of­fer­ing ad­vice to despots and dic­ta­tors.

Un­til now, it was known only that Manafort was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for busi­ness deal­ings with Trump’s son-in­law, his role in a 2016 meet­ing be­tween Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials and the Rus­sians, and whether his work for the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment vi­o­lated

the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act.

But the search war­rant for the tax and for­eign bank­ing records sug­gests that in­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing at crim­i­nal charges re­lated to the fed­eral Bank Se­crecy Act, which re­quires Amer­i­cans to re­port their for­eign bank­ing ac­counts. The FBI typ­i­cally seeks such records when in­ves­ti­gat­ing such vi­o­la­tions.

Manafort’s al­lies have said they 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.

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

The gov­ern­ment rarely pros­e­cutes cases re­lated to the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act, and Manafort’s con­sult­ing firm retroac­tively filed forms with the Jus­tice Depart­ment last month to be in com­pli­ance with the act.

The June 2016 meet­ing — which Manafort at­tended with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, and Don­ald Trump Jr. — is a key fo­cus of the probes into Rus­sian med­dling. The meet­ing, held at Trump Tower in New York, was de­scribed to Trump Jr. in emails as part of a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment ef­fort to help the Trump cam­paign by pass­ing along in­for­ma­tion that could be used against Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton. Manafort

was named Trump’s cam­paign man­ager a few days af­ter the meet­ing.

Dur­ing his Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee in­ter­view, Manafort pro­vided his rec­ol­lec­tion of the meet­ing and turned over con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous notes he took dur­ing the gath­er­ing. The in­ter­view was con­fined to that meet­ing.

Manafort has turned over other doc­u­ments to the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, as well as about 400 pages of records to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

Mean­while, the ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee said it re­cently re­ceived about 250 pages of doc­u­ments from Trump Jr. and about 20,000 pages from Manafort and the Trump cam­paign.

The con­tent of those doc­u­ments was not im­me­di­ately clear. Com­mit­tee spokesman Ge­orge Hart­mann said Tues­day that it re­ceived the Manafort and Trump cam­paign doc­u­ments on Aug. 2 and the records from Trump Jr. on Fri­day.

Fu­sion GPS, a com­pany the ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee says has been linked to an un­ver­i­fied dossier de­tail­ing un­sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tions re­gard­ing Trump’s ac­tiv­i­ties in Rus­sia, and the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Glenn Simp­son, have yet to turn over any re­quested doc­u­ments, Hart­mann said.

The com­mit­tee has said it wants to in­ves­ti­gate Fu­sion GPS’ role in the cre­ation of the dossier. Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, told re­porters last week that he wants to know if Rus­sians paid for the dossier.

The com­mit­tee had asked

for all records re­gard­ing any at­tempts or in­ter­est in ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton from Rus­sian gov­ern­ment or af­fil­i­ated sources, in­clud­ing the June 2016 meet­ing at Trump Tower.

Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee lead­ers have also been in talks with Trump Jr. and Manafort about pri­vate in­ter­views. The com­mit­tee ini­tially called for them to tes­tify pub­licly, but law­mak­ers have since said they were ne­go­ti­at­ing the terms of their ap­pear­ances.

As part of the FBI probe, agents also 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 dur­ing the Trump pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion. Kian has not re­sponded to mul­ti­ple at­tempts to con­tact him over sev­eral months.

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