The Trump campaign has been under serious investigation and scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for possible collusion with Russia into the 2016 election. Now major news is breaking that former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was wiretapped by the U.S. government before and after the 2016 election.
Reportedly, the wiretapping goes all the way back to 2014 when a secret order was authorized by the court that handles FISA – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That means that Manafort was the subject of an FBI investigation going all the way back to 2014. The focus of the investigation was on Manafort’s consulting work with the Ukraine government.
‘The FBI interest in Manafort dates back at least to 2014, partly as an outgrowth of a US investigation of Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president whose pro-Russian regime was ousted amid street protests. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions was accused of corruption, and Ukrainian authorities claimed he squirreled millions of dollars out of the country.’
The warrant ceased in 2016, but the FBI obtained a new FISA warrant that extended into early this year. The second warrant was where the Trump campaign directly comes into play, as the purpose was specifically to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.
This type of warrant isn’t something the FBI can obtain easily, and it requires the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials. The FBI also has to show the court that there is enough suspicion that the subject was acting as an agent of foreign power. Last fall, the FBI became more focused on Manafort after they intercepted communications between Manafort and special operatives, and among Russians themselves.
Some of the most sought after information comes from a meeting that took place between Donald Trump Jr., Manafort, Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer who promised to give them negative information on Hillary Clinton. However, the warrant wasn’t effective during June 2016 when this meeting supposedly happened.
In May of last year, roughly during this same time period that the meeting with this Russian lawyer happened, Manafort officially took over as Trump’s campaign manager. Sources have said that the FBI pulled back on their investigations due to a lack of evidence relating to the Ukraine.
Then, in August 2016, after a short amount of time on the job, Manafort was suddenly ousted from the Trump campaign. This is at the point when the FBI began monitoring Manafort again under a new FISA warrant.
According to CNN:
‘The court that oversees government snooping under FISA operates in secret, the surveillance so intrusive that the existence of the warrants only rarely become public.‘For that reason, speculation has run rampant about whether Manafort or others associated with Trump were under surveillance. The President himself fueled the speculation when in March he used his Twitter account to accuse former President Barack Obama of having his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower.’