FBI raided home of ex-Trump cam­paign chief

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Carol D. Leon­nig, Tom Ham­burger and Rosalind S. Hel­der­man

FBI agents raided the home in Alexan­dria, Va., of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, ar­riv­ing in the pre-dawn hours late last month and seiz­ing doc­u­ments and other ma­te­ri­als re­lated to the spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion.

The raid, which oc­curred with­out warn­ing on July 26, sig­naled an ag­gres­sive new ap­proach by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller and his team in deal­ing with a key fig­ure in the Rus­sia in­quiry. Manafort has been un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure as the Mueller team looked into his per­sonal fi­nances and his pro­fes­sional ca­reer as a highly paid for­eign po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant.

Us­ing a search war­rant, agents ap­peared the day Manafort was sched­uled to tes­tify be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and a day af­ter he met vol­un­tar­ily with Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staff mem­bers.

The search war­rant re­quested doc­u­ments re­lated to tax, bank­ing and other mat­ters. Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the search said agents de­parted the Manafort res­i­dence

with a trove of ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing binders pre­pared ahead of Manafort’s con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors in the Rus­sia in­quiry 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.

“I think it adds a shockand-awe en­force­ment com­po­nent to what un­til now has fol­lowed a nat­u­ral path for a white-col­lar in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Ja­cob Frenkel, a for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor. “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.”

Ja­son Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, con­firmed that agents ex­e­cuted a war­rant at one of the po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant’s homes and that Manafort co­op­er­ated.

Manafort has been vol­un­tar­ily pro­vid­ing doc­u­ments to con­gres­sional com­mit­tees in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence. The search war­rant in­di­cates that in­ves­ti­ga­tors may have ar­gued to a fed­eral judge that they had rea­son to think Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in re­sponse to a grand jury sub­poena.

The raid also could 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 mem­bers, who al­ready have be­gun comb­ing through Manafort’s com­pli­cated fi­nan­cial past.

Mueller has in­creased le­gal pres­sure on Manafort, con­sol­i­dat­ing un­der his author­ity un­re­lated in­ves­ti­ga­tions of 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 he would pro­vide in­for­ma­tion against oth­ers in Trump’s in­ner cir­cle in ex­change for less­en­ing his le­gal ex­po­sure.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.