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Feds Put Major Squeeze On Trump's Former Campaign Manager Manafort
Reports say he's been told he
would be indicted

September 19, 2017

Top photo: Paul Manafort appearing ABC TV news show "This week" July 24, 2016 denying there were ties between Trump Presidential campaign and Soviet leader Vladimir Putin's regime. Bottom: facsimile screen shot of NY Times front page story 9/19/17.
Chronicle staff

(NATIONAL) -- There were two bombshell reports that dropped on Monday regarding the ongoing Special Counsel probe into Russian tampering of the US Presidential election.

The first was from the New York Times which reported on the aggressive nature of Special Counsel Mueller's raid of former Donald Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort's home,

The NY Times front page headline to the story was slugged "Mueller Inquiry Sets Tone With Shock & Awe Approach."

The story said Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has "aggressively used warrants and subpoenas for the Russia investigation" that is "sending a message in Washington."

The lead-in to the story made the point in no uncertain terms that Mueller isn't kidding with this probe and that he most certainly does think there is sufficient information indicating the possibility of the Trump campaign being somehow touched by or intertwined with efforts by Moscow operatives to interfere with the 2016 US Presidential campaign in order to help Donald Trump get elected.

From the report

"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 Times report went on to say those "moves" underway against Manafort are "just a glimpse" of the aggressive tactics used by 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.

That reporting stands in stark contrast to repeated statements by some Republican lawmakers and most if not all of right wing media, that there "is nothing to the Russian thing."

The claim is often made by right wing media personalities that the story is concocted by the "liberal news media" and fueled by Hillary Clinton's and the Democratic Party's anger at losing the election.

As a basis for its story the Times cites unnamed lawyers, witnesses and "American officials" who have described the approach to the probe that Mueller’s team is taking.

The story claims Mueller’s team is using a strategy that "some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry."

Three items from that story:

.......Mr. Mueller has obtained from a judge or judges a "flurry of subpoenas" to compel witnesses to testify before a grand jury.

.......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.

.......The report quotes Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999 as saying, “They (Mueller's team) are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled...y you want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.’”

The report adds that a spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment on the story and that lawyers and a spokesman for Mr. Manafort also declined to comment.

The CNN story

On the same day CNN News reported that the FBI surveilled (tapped into) Paul Manafort's communications - including phone, email and other forms of communications - both before and after the election and "continued into this year."

"This is an extraordinary step for the FBI to do surveillance on a high ranking campaign official," said Evan Perez, CNN's Justice Correspondent during a panel discussion Monday evening on CNN. "Manafort is now at the center of the Russian meddling investigation....we're told that there are intercepted communications that raise concerns about whether Manafort was encouraging the Russians to help with the (Trump) campaign," added Perez.

He also said that "other sources" had told the network that this intelligence material gathered to date by law enforcement is not conclusive enough at this stage to prove any illegal actions were taken by Manafort or the individuals in and around the Trump campaign.

Perez added that, "this is surveillance beyond wiretaps, this is searches that the FBI is authorized to do...we're told the FBI has communications between suspected Russian operatives relaying what they claimed were discussions with Manafort as well as communications involving Manafort" but that "none of this has amounted to what people consider a smoking gun in this investigation and there's still more work being done to determine whether there's a criminal violation here...we didn't get a comment from Manafort's spokesman but Manafort has previously denied that he ever knowingly communicated to Russian intelligence operatives during the election. He's also denied helping Russia undermine US interests."



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