U.S. investigators wiretapped Paul Manafort, report says

Posted September 20, 2017

CNN has learned that US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. A second warrant obtained in 2016 required the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide evidence for the suspicion that Manfort was acting as an agent of a foreign power.

According to CNN, the new warrant was related to an FBI investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.

Two of those sources say the evidence is not conclusive.

The surveillance was initially authorized in 2014 by a court empowered by the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) as part of an investigation into work done by several Washington consulting firms for a Russia-connected ruling party in Ukraine. The F.B.I. later obtained a new FISA warrant, which reportedly extended into early 2017 and was part of the probe into whether members of the Trump campaign worked with the Kremlin to derail Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

Besides questions about the accuracy of Trump's tweet, the CNN report raises new questions about why and when the Federal Bureau of Investigation began targeting Manafort, who joined the Trump campaign in May and was sacked in August.

The subpoenaed former Manafort lawyer is Melissa Laurenza, a specialist in lobbying law, according to the Times sources. Republican lawmakers have started questioning how significant the dossier was to the FBI's collusion investigation and how extensively investigators vetted the claims made in Steele's reports.

It's unclear when exactly the surveillance kicked back into gear, but CNN reports Manafort managed to recapture the FBI's attention when he was caught on intercepted communications with "Russian operatives".

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"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory".

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters at the Republican National Convention past year in Cleveland. It's the first significant bit of information to come from the otherwise very disciplined office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and has led to immediate cable news analysis.

Monday's CNN report that claimed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was the subject of wiretapping last year and earlier this year was originally brought to light by conservative commentator Mark Levin in March.

Agents had picked the lock to his Virginia home as Mr Manafort lay in bed, and were looking for evidence that he had set up off-shore bank accounts, the newspaper reported.

Neither Manafort nor Mueller commented for either the CNN or NYT stories.

The New York Times published a report about the FBI's dramatic raid on Manafort's home, during which agents allegedly tried to find proof, including tax documents and banking records, pertaining to Manafort's reported collaboration with Russian operatives.