FBI Searched Home of Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort has a long history of working with and for unsavory people. His lobbying firm lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone (as in Roger Stone, the longtime friend of Donald Trump who sports a Nixon tat on his back) has lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of a number of foreign leaders and nations, including Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin former prime minister of Ukraine, who is now in exile in Russia.

He also spent part of the decade before the 2016 presidential election, during which he served as advisor and eventually campaign manager to Trump, secretly working for Russian billionaire oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Putin's, during which time Manafort allegedly "proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics."

A year ago, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dates and dollar amounts, totaling at least $1.2 million, next to Manafort's name. Manafort publicly questioned the authenticity of the ledger, while "Ukrainian investigators called it evidence of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party."

These are just the broadest outlines of the work that made Manafort the focus of a federal probe into possible corruption, even before he also became a target in the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The gist is: Manafort is shady. He's done shady work for foreign adversaries of the United States, he hasn't always disclosed all of his work as required by U.S. law, and some of the payments for that work are pretty sketchy, at best.

All of that is preface to the news, reported by Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger, and Rosalind S. Helderman at the Washington Post, that the FBI conducted a predawn raid of Manafort's home last month.
FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of [Donald] Trump's former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort's home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant's homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.

Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.
The New York Times reports that the seized documents were reportedly "tax documents and foreign banking records," in which the FBI typically takes an interest "when investigating violations of the federal Bank Secrecy Act, which requires Americans to report their foreign banking accounts."

Where this will lead Mueller's investigation depends on what they found — or didn't find.

Like the impaneling of a grand jury, this search means that Mueller's investigation is proceeding. And that is still good news, given Trump's attempts to intimidate Mueller with belligerent public statements and threats to interfere with the investigation.

As I've said before, no one knows better than one of Trump's multiple fired campaign managers that Trump's much-touted reverence for loyalty only goes one way. Trump had better be praying to his god of gold toilets that they don't find anything on Manafort which might induce him to sing.

In the meantime, he's launching a preemptive strike in the ugliest way, just as he has done his entire life.

Like I said, Trump's loyalty only goes one way. If Paul Manafort hadn't already taken notice of that fact, he surely has now.

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