Manafort was in the wrong place (Trump campaign) at the wrong time (2016 election), so his business dealings are subject to prosecution pressure tactics.
WiretapGate keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.
A couple of days ago there were reports that Team Mueller told Paul Manafort he likely would be indicted, and that Manafort was wiretapped before and after the 2016 election.
Today brings a report from CBS News that those wiretaps took place during the campaign. The media reaction focuses heavily on Manafort having spoken with Russians, but there is no indication about what. What is lost in translation in the headlines is that, according to CBS, conversations between Manafort and Trump may have been scooped up in the surveillance:
Long before the special counsel began investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election — and whether anyone in the Trump campaign was involved — Paul Manafort was the target of an FBI investigation. It included electronic surveillance of the one-time Trump campaign chairman.
CBS News has learned that the surveillance on Manafort occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to a former U.S. official, the intercepts picked up conversations between Manafort and Russian individuals about the campaign. The intercepts potentially include conversations between Manafort and President Trump.
If the Manafort surveillance, including during the campaign and transition, picked up conversations with Trump and other campaign members, that would lend more credence to Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped.
The media, of course, focuses on the precise wording of the Trump tweet in which the claim was made, but as I pointed out at the time, “wires tapped” could means many things, Some curious language in both Trump’s “wiretap” accusation and Obama’s defense.
The issue is not the wording of Trump’s tweets, but what the FBI and intelligence community did to surveil Manafort and others involved in the campaign and transition.
In related news, CNN is reporting that Mueller is digging back a decade into Manafort’s past to try to find a crime:
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.
CNN suggests that this all is an attempt to put such pressure on Manafort that he flips against Trump.
All of this reporting needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The media has been wrong many times in its accusations about Trump and Russia.
It wouldn’t surprise me if a prosecutor with unlimited time and resources could find a crime committed by someone like Manafort, with shady international dealings. But if not for the Trump-Russia accusations, Manafort likely would not be subject to such efforts.
Manafort was in the wrong place (Trump campaign) at the wrong time (2016 election), and is not the ultimate target. That target is Trump, as I wrote early on, Mueller found the man (Trump), now he’ll find the crime.DONATE
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