Sunday 25 March 2018

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman's home searched by FBI

Paul Manafort led President Donald Trump's campaign for several months (AP)
Paul Manafort led President Donald Trump's campaign for several months (AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

FBI agents searched one of the homes of US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Mr Manafort's past foreign political work has been swept into the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

A spokesman for Mr Manafort, Jason Maloni, said in a statement that FBI agents had obtained a warrant and searched one of Mr Manafort's homes.

The Washington Post, which first reported the raid, said agents working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller conducted the search the morning of July 26 at Mr Manafort's home in Alexandria, Virginia.

Mr Maloni said: "Mr Manafort has consistently co-operated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well."

Mr Manafort has been a subject of a long-standing FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country's former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

That investigation has been incorporated into the probe led by Mr Mueller, who is also scrutinising Mr Manafort's role in the Trump campaign as he looks into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with Trump associates.

Mr Manafort, who led the Trump campaign for several months, has denied any wrongdoing. He also spoke behind closed doors to Senate investigators for an interview just one day before the search of his home.

The use of a search warrant shows law enforcement officials have convinced a judge there is probable cause to believe a crime may have been committed.

Word of the raid is the latest revelation about Mr Mueller's investigation, which had been operating in relative secrecy compared with numerous congressional probes looking at the election.

In recent days, it has become clear the former FBI director is using a grand jury in Washington in addition to one in the Eastern District of Virginia, where investigators have also been looking into Mr Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Also, FBI agents have been asking witnesses since the spring about 530,000 US dollars worth of lobbying and investigative work carried out by Mr Flynn's firm, Flynn Intel Group, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

That work sought the extradition of an exiled Turkish cleric living in the US. Through his lawyer, Mr Flynn has declined to comment on the investigation.

The person said FBI agents have also been asking about Mr Flynn's business partner, Bijan Kian, who served on the Trump presidential transition.

In recent months, Mr Flynn and Mr Manafort have turned over documents to congressional committees investigating the election interference.

One focus of the multiple probes is a June 2016 meeting Mr Manafort attended with Mr Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr.

That meeting, held at Trump Tower in New York, was described to Mr Trump Jr in emails as part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign by passing along information that could be used against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

During his Senate intelligence committee interview, Mr Manafort provided his recollection of the Trump Tower meeting and turned over contemporaneous notes he took during the gathering. The interview was confined to that meeting.

Mr Manafort has also turned over other documents to the Senate intelligence committee as well as about 400 pages of records to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee said it has also received about 250 pages of documents from Mr Trump Jr and about 20,000 pages from the Trump campaign.

The content of the documents was not immediately clear. The committee said it received the Manafort and Trump campaign documents on August 2 and the records from Mr Trump Jr on August 4.

Judiciary committee leaders have also been in talks with Mr Trump Jr and Mr Manafort about private interviews. The committee initially called for them to give evidence publicly, but lawmakers have since said they were negotiating the terms of their appearances.

Press Association

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