Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion es­ca­lates as FBI raids Manafort’s home.

Tax doc­u­ments, for­eign bank­ing records taken

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller has es­ca­lated his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Trump cam­paign fig­ures with the FBI’s re­cent raid on the home of Paul Manafort, a for­mer cam­paign chair­man.

Mr. Manafort’s spokesman con­firmed the raid, which re­port­edly se­cured tax doc­u­ments and for­eign bank­ing records.

“FBI agents ex­e­cuted a search war­rant at one of Mr. Manafort’s res­i­dences,” said spokesman Ja­son Maloni. “Mr. Manafort has con­sis­tently co­op­er­ated with law en­force­ment and other se­ri­ous in­quiries and did so on this oc­ca­sion as well.”

The Washington Post first re­ported the July 26 raid, say­ing that FBI agents work­ing with Mr. Mueller made a predawn visit to Mr. Manafort’s Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia, home.

The New York Times then re­ported that “tax doc­u­ments and for­eign bank­ing records” were seized, spark­ing spec­u­la­tion that the FBI is in­ves­ti­gat­ing vi­o­la­tions of the fed­eral Bank Se­crecy Act. Un­der the law, Amer­i­cans are re­quired to re­port for­eign fi­nan­cial ac­counts.

Mr. Mueller is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and any pos­si­ble co­or­di­na­tion with mem­bers of the Trump cam­paign. The sig­nif­i­cance of the doc­u­ments seized un­der the search war­rant to the larger probe is un­clear.

But law en­force­ment ex­perts say the fact the raid took place at all ap­pears to be a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment in the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Mr. Manafort — far more telling than re­ports last week that Mr. Mueller had im­pan­eled a grand jury in the case.

“In or­der to get a search war­rant, you have to es­tab­lish prob­a­ble cause a crime has been com­mit­ted and that ev­i­dence of that crime ex­ists in the place you want to search,” said Char­lie Price, a re­tired FBI spe­cial agent who spe­cial­ized in fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “A fed­eral judge has looked at this and found prob­a­ble cause. That is sig­nif­i­cant. They don’t find prob­a­ble cause in a witch hunt.”

Mr. Manafort was in­volved with the Trump cam­paign at a crit­i­cal junc­ture, lead­ing it for three months dur­ing the runup to the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion last sum­mer. The po­si­tion was short-lived how­ever, as he re­signed from the cam­paign in Au­gust amid ques­tions about his lob­by­ing work on be­half of pro-Rus­sia groups in Ukraine.

The FBI raid at Mr. Manafort’s home came the day af­ter he met be­hind closed doors with the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor and cur­rent mem­ber of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said the raid ap­pears to be a sig­nal that Mr. Manafort has not been as co­op­er­a­tive with in­ves­ti­ga­tors as he’s claimed.

“A fed­eral judge sign­ing this war­rant would de­mand per­sua­sive ev­i­dence of prob­a­ble cause that a se­ri­ous crime has been com­mit­ted and that less in­tru­sive and dra­matic in­ves­tiga­tive means would be in­ef­fec­tive,” the Con­necti­cut Demo­crat said. “This kind of raid — in the early morn­ing hours with no ad­vanced no­tice — shows an as­ton­ish­ing and alarm­ing dis­trust for the pres­i­dent’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man.”

News of the raid comes as the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, one of sev­eral con­gres­sional com­mit­tees also in­ves­ti­gat­ing Moscow’s in­ter­fer­ence, dis­closed that it had re­ceived more than 20,000 pages of doc­u­ments re­quested as part of its probe — in­clud­ing more than 400 pages from Mr. Manafort.

The com­mit­tee had sought a broad range of doc­u­ments re­lated to Trump cam­paign ef­forts to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion about then-Demo­cratic ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton, and any co­or­di­na­tion with Rus­sian as­so­ciates. The com­mit­tee re­quest sin­gled out the need for doc­u­ments re­lated to a June 2016 meet­ing be­tween Don­ald Trump Jr., Jared Kush­ner, and Rus­sian lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya. Mr. Manafort also at­tended.

The com­mit­tee also sought com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Mr. Manafort and spe­cific Rus­sian and Ukrainian of­fi­cials.

Mr. Manafort has al­ready had to retroac­tively file forms to be­lat­edly com­ply with the For­eign Agent Reg­is­tra­tion Act, based on his work on be­half of a Ukrainian po­lit­i­cal party.

The new fil­ing, among the doc­u­ments pro­vided to the ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee, showed Mr. Manafort’s con­sult­ing firm re­ceived $17 mil­lion be­tween 2012 and 2014 for work on be­half of the po­lit­i­cal party.

The com­mit­tee also re­ceived 20,000 pages of records from the Trump cam­paign, and 250 pages of records from the pres­i­dent’s el­dest son, said panel spokesman Ge­orge Hart­mann.

The com­mit­tee plans to in­ter­view Mr. Manafort later this sum­mer be­hind closed doors, the spokesman said.


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