Mueller’s Manafort probe: WAAAY bigger than previously revealed
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is reaching back more than a decade in its investigation of Paul Manafort, a sign of the pressure Mueller is placing on President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.
The FBI’s warrant for a July search of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home said the investigation centered on possible crimes committed as far back as January 2006, according to a source briefed on the investigation.
The broad time frame is the latest indication that Mueller’s team is going well beyond Russian meddling during the campaign as part of its investigation of Trump campaign associates. Manafort, who has been the subject of an FBI investigation for three years, has emerged as a focal point for Mueller.
The search, an unusually hard-nosed tactic in a probe that centers on possible tax and financial crimes, began before dawn as Manafort and his wife lay in bed, according to sources briefed on the matter.
Rolling Stone‘s well-connected investigative reporter Bob Dreyfuss writes:
The first big, fat domino in Donald Trump’s Russiagate scandal is about to topple over: Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia’s hack-and-leak attack during the 2016 election, has told Trump’s 2016 campaign manager that he’s going to be indicted, according to The New York Times … the agents who raided Manafort’s home were so concerned that Manafort might try to destroy evidence that they were armed with an unusual no-knock search warrant that allowed them to stealthily enter his home by picking the lock, surprising Manafort while he was in his bedroom, presumably sleeping. The FBI also conducted a secondary raid, breaking into a storage facility that belonged to Manafort, according to CNN.
Let’s be clear about what all this means:
- First, it means Mueller and the FBI convinced a federal judge sufficient evidence existed that Manafort was guilty of a crime, or that he was an agent of a foreign power, or both.
- Second, it raises the possibility that the feds have tapes that could contain direct evidence of Manafort, and possibly President Trump, talking about collusion with Russia.
- And third, it means Manafort now has every incentive to cooperate with Mueller rather than face criminal charges.
… It isn’t known whether or to what extent Manafort’s work drew the attention of U.S. intelligence agencies, which were undoubtedly keeping track of the activities of many of Manafort’s clients after 2004. What is known, however, is that in 2014 Manafort fell under the FBI’s scrutiny, and the bureau started following Manafort.
You can also bet your bottom dollar that Mueller’s team has fired up the “wayback machine” to look into several other Trump associates.
The first two are recognizable as bosses of the notorious Five Families, as the leading organized crime outfits of New York and other areas of the country were once known, and the third obviously belongs to the president of the United States and his famous New York real estate family. Other than location, location and location, the three names also have something else in common: aggressive federal investigations.
At least that’s the analogy made by one former federal prosecutor and current law professor in describing the tactics undertaken by special counsel Robert Mueller as he delves into Russia’s alleged collusion with the Trump campaign last year, as well as into the president’s finances.
“They seem to be pursuing this more aggressively, taking a much harder line, than you’d expect to see in a typical white-collar case,” Notre Dame professor Jimmy Gurulé told The New York Times. “This is more consistent with how you’d go after an organized crime syndicate.”
The comment cited not only the tactics employed during Mueller’s probe over the last four months, but also the team the former FBI director assembled and its areas of expertise. …
Earlier this month, it was disclosed Mueller’s team intends to speak to many top Trump staffers who could be privy to pertinent information, like “capos,” or leaders of mafia crews. The special counsel told the White House that he was likely to seek interviews with six top current and former aides, including new Communications Director Hope Hicks, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer, according to The Washington Post.
It’s on, people. Buckle in!