Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 7 News List

FBI raids ex-Trump aide’s home

AGGRESSIVE TACTIC:The FBI obtained a search warrant from a judge last month, although Paul Manafort had been cooperating with congressional investigators


US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort checks the teleprompters before Trump’s speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on April 26 last year.

Photo: AFP

FBI agents looking for financial documents have searched one of the homes of US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose past foreign political work has been swept into the investigations into Russian interference in last year’s US presidential election.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni on Wednesday confirmed the search, but he would not say when it occurred or what it was for.

“Mr Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” Maloni said in a statement.

Reporters have learned that the warrant for the search on July 26 at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, sought information, including tax documents and banking records.

The Washington Post first reported the raid.

Manafort has been a subject of a long-standing FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

That investigation has been incorporated into the probe led by US special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also scrutinizing Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign as he looks into Russia’s meddling in last year’s election and any possible collusion with Trump associates.

Manafort, who led the Trump campaign for several months, has denied any wrongdoing.

He also spoke behind closed doors to US Senate investigators for an interview just one day before the search of his home.

The use of a search warrant indicates that law enforcement officials have convinced a judge there is probable cause to believe a crime might have been committed.

A house raid can be seen as an aggressive tactic given that Manafort has been cooperating with congressional investigators and has turned over hundreds of pages of documents.

It could indicate law enforcement was looking for records beyond what Manafort provided.

Word of the raid is the latest revelation about Mueller’s investigation, which had been operating in relative secrecy compared with numerous congressional probes looking at the election.

It has become clear the former FBI director is using a grand jury in Washington as part of his investigation.

A grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in the past few months has also been used by investigators looking into former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

FBI agents have also been asking witnesses since the spring about US$530,000 worth of lobbying and investigative work carried out by Flynn’s firm, Flynn Intel Group, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

That work sought the extradition of an exiled Turkish cleric living in the US.

Through his attorney, Flynn has declined to comment on the investigation.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive details of the investigation, said FBI agents have also been asking about Flynn’s business partner, Bijan Kian, who served on the Trump presidential transition team.

Kian has not responded to multiple attempts to contact him over several months.

In the past few months, Flynn and Manafort have turned over documents to congressional committees investigating the election interference.

One focus of the multiple probes, including Mueller’s, is a meeting in June last year that Manafort attended with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr.

That meeting, held at Trump Tower in New York City, was described to Trump Jr in e-mails as part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign by passing along information that could be used against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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