It was reported yesterday that the FBI had been wiretapping Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, before and after the 2016 election. Manafort had been the target of an investigation going back to 2014. Now, more details are coming out about what the FBI picked up under surveillance. On Tuesday, CBS News reported:
‘According to a former U.S. official, the intercepts picked up conversations between Manafort and Russian individuals about the campaign. The intercepts potentially include conversations between Manafort and President Trump.’
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has those recordings which are being used as part of an investigation that seems to be strongly targeting Manafort. There hasn’t been any specific information released on what may have been said during those conversations or how the Russian individuals might be tied to the Trump campaign or other Russian officials.
‘Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor, told CBS News he would characterize what is happening with Manafort as “very aggressive.” He says investigators may be pressuring Manafort to give up information in exchange for leniency.’
Zeidenberg, being familiar with the tactics used on Manafort, says that prosecutors do “exactly what they’re doing now” to Manafort to get someone to cooperate. He said those actions include:
‘Search warrants, interviewing everybody around him and then advising him that he’s about to be or will be indicted.’
This is not the first time Manafort has been implicated in serious political crimes – in 1989, Manafort was accused of being part of a scheme to steer millions of dollars to well-connected Republican Party operatives through a New Jersey housing project. He was eventually cleared by Congress of any wrong-doing, but when Manafort was pushed to describe his job surrounding those circumstances, he said:
‘You could characterize this as influence peddling.’
Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, released a statement about the wiretapping saying:
‘If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged. The U.S Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent. Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ – there is nothing there.’
Mueller is heading a relentless investigation and anyone would be remiss to think that Manafort knows nothing, especially when it is clear that he is the key to exposing Trump’s dirty crimes.
Watch this clip from “CBS This Morning.“
Featured image by Brooks Kraft/Getty Images.