Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is in a helluva lot of trouble, so much so that he could be the first one to flip on the former reality show star. The U.S. government has the goods on Manafort. As it happens, investigators wiretapped Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, according to what sources told CNN. Manafort is at the center of the Russia meddling probe.
The government continued this extraordinary measure into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to Donald Trump.
Even though two of the sources warned that the evidence is not conclusive, they said that some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, three sources confirmed.
As it happens, Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is leading the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, has been provided details of these communications. Meaning that Manafort and Trump’s campaign is in trouble. Mueller knows what’s going on, including being privy to Trump’s tax returns.
Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives. Such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
Due to the intercepted communications between Manafort and Russian operatives, the FBI became increasingly interested in what was taking place, thus, the agency’s interest was reignited.
As part of the FISA warrant, CNN has learned that earlier this year, the FBI conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Manafort. It’s not known what they found.
Even after Trump took office, conversations between Manafort and Trump continued. And that was after the public was aware that the FBI was investigating Manafort. Finally, lawyers for Trump and Manafort intervened to insist they stop communicating, according to the sources.
At this point, it’s not clear whether Trump was picked up on the surveillance but it was during the time they were communicating.
In addition, prosecutors on Mueller’s team reportedly told Manafort that they planned to indict him while they raided his Virginia home in July, according to the New York Times.
Manafort’s own daughters hate him. What’s he got to lose by flipping on Trump? Just asking for a country…
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.