So was Trump right after all?
It has been a short while since we checked in on how the Prosecutors In Search of a Crime, aka Mueller Special Prosecutor, was doing.
Tonight CNN dropped a bombshell. Of course, CNN bombshell’s have been duds in the past, so take that into account.
The bombshell is that Paul Manafort was wiretapped before the election, though it’s not clear if it included while he was Trump’s campaign manager. Manafort also was wiretapped after the election, at a time he was known to communicate with Trump.
What these two pieces of information mean is that there is a possibility — not definitive — that the U.S. government spied on a presidential campaign and post-campaign transition. That’s what Donald Trump once claimed and he was roundly excoriated for saying it.
US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.
The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.
Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is leading the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election, has been provided details of these communications.
Meanwhile, the NY Times reports that Team Mueller is playing quite the bully. It’s not unusual for prosecutors to be bullies, but this is no normal prosecution; this is a prosecution in search of a crime.
The Times reports that Manafort has been told he’ll be indicted, and Mueller is moving quickly to bring the hammer down:
Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.
The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election, according to lawyers, witnesses and American officials who have described the approach. Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.
Mr. Mueller has obtained a flurry of subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify before a grand jury, lawyers and witnesses say, sometimes before his prosecutors have taken the customary first step of interviewing them. One witness was called before the grand jury less than a month after his name surfaced in news accounts. The special counsel even took the unusual step of obtaining a subpoena for one of Mr. Manafort’s former lawyers, claiming an exception to the rule that shields attorney-client discussions from scrutiny.
Not a good look so far for Team Mueller. But not unexpected.DONATE
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