The FBI had targeted Paul Manafort before, during, and after the 2016 campaign. So the God-King was ‘right?’ (More)

“The FBI interest in Manafort dates back at least to 2014”

The New York Times reports this morning that special counsel Robert Mueller’s staff have told lobbyist and former God-King campaign manager Paul Manafort that he will be indicted, and in any reasonable world that would be The Big Story. But no … The Big Story is that the God-King was ‘right’:

Well, are people going to apologize to President Trump for telling the truth about the scurrilous Obama regime?

Breitbart reports U.S. investigators wiretapped President Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a report by CNN that vindicates the president’s earlier claims, which were mocked as a conspiracy theory.

Umm, not really. Turns out the investigation of Manafort began before the God-King even began his presidential campaign:

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.

Investigators have spent years probing any possible role played by Manafort’s firm and other US consultants, including the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, that worked with the former Ukraine regime. The basis for the case hinged on the failure by the US firms to register under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law that the Justice Department only rarely uses to bring charges.

All three firms earlier this year filed retroactive registrations with the Justice Department.

As that CNN story reports – and it’s the same story that the wingnut above is relying on – this all started with whether Manafort helped Yanukovych launder money. As part of that probe, the FBI requested and was granted a FISA warrant on Manafort:

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.

The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year.

Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives. Such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.

So Manafort was under surveillance before the God-King started his campaign. But somehow this still proves the God-King was ‘right’ about President Obama ‘wiretapping’ his campaign … because the FBI didn’t drop the investigation when the God-King hired Manafort. Apparently only candidates named Clinton should be the targets of FBI investigations….

“That would truly send an earthquake through Washington”

But really, The Big Story is that Manafort will likely be indicted. To save you the New York Times view, here’s an analysis by Vox’s Andrew Prokop:

It’s been obvious for some time that Manafort was potentially facing an indictment, but this is the first time we’ve heard such a specific claim of that coming from Mueller’s team (albeit secondhand).

Of course, threatening an indictment is not the same as actually issuing one. All this could be tough talk designed to intimidate and scare Manafort into making some sort of cooperation deal. We don’t really know what evidence Mueller has, so we can’t say.

It’s also unclear what, exactly, Manafort would be indicted for. It is possible he would be indicted for activities that entirely preceded the campaign, involving either disclosures of his Ukraine work or his finances. If that’s the case, President Trump could credibly claim that any of those allegations have nothing to do with him.

The other possibility, though, is that Manafort would be indicted on charges related in some form to collusion with Russia during the campaign. And if that transpires, that would truly send an earthquake through Washington.

And perhaps Moscow as well….

“Possible violations of tax laws, money-laundering prohibitions and requirements to disclose foreign lobbying”

Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey, Shannon Togawa Mercer, and Benjamin Wittes offer a legal analysis:

CNN reported that interest in Manafort was “reignited” because of “intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves.” The FBI also conducted physical searches: one of a storage facility belonging to Manafort and a more widely reported search of his Alexandria home in late July. Manafort was not under surveillance when he became chairman of Trump’s campaign, CNN sources suggested, because of the gap between the two warrants.

While CNN did not report a known start date for the second surveillance period, it suggested that the FBI had already “noticed what counterintelligence agents thought was a series of odd connections between Trump associates and Russia” by the time Manafort left the campaign in August. CNN describes as unclear whether FBI surveillance of Manafort took place while he was residing in Trump Tower, and there is no new evidence in this report to indicate that Donald Trump himself was under surveillance. The Justice Department and the FBI have denied that Trump was subject to wiretapping.

Shortly after CNN’s story broke, the New York Times published its own scoop regarding Manafort. The story is largely a scene piece, but includes a number of highly significant facts. The Times catalogs what it describes as “aggressive tactics” that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has employed in his investigations of Trump associates, specifically Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. First, the Times reveals that after the July raid on Manafort’s residence, Mueller’s prosecutors warned Manafort that he would be indicted. The story also reports that Mueller’s team has subpoenaed several of Manafort’s associates, including Jason Maloni, a former Manafort spokesman; the heads of Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group; and one of Manafort’s former lawyers (with Mueller’s team claiming an exception to attorney-client privilege). While White House officials have been given the opportunity to appear for “voluntary interviews” instead of before grand juries, Manafort’s associates have been subpoenaed, marking a less deferential approach to the Manafort investigation. The Times suggests that Mueller, leaving no rock unturned, is investigating Manafort for “possible violations of tax laws, money-laundering prohibitions and requirements to disclose foreign lobbying.”

It may well be that Manafort was not under surveillance while he was the God-King’s campaign manager, so the whole “nefarious Obama wiretapping the God-King” meme goes down the tubes. But none of that will matter to the God-King’s ardent supporters. He was ‘right’ – they have declared and will forever believe – because Manafort was the God-King’s campaign manager (for a few weeks) and Manafort was under surveillance sometime (even if not during those few weeks). If Manafort so much as carried an under-FISA-warrant-at-some-point cell phone into the lobby of Trump Tower, that proves the “nefarious Obama administration” wiretapped Trump Tower.

If that bar were any lower, it would be under ground. Just sayin’….


Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri (Reuters)


Good day and good nuts