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Good news: Trump was right, there was ‘wiretapping.’ Bad news: Manafort is probably toast

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Always the bad news first. Paul Manafort needs to pick up the phone, and call Scooter Libby.

Libby was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 30 months in prison for making false statements about his conversations with a reporter from Time Magazine in the fallout after the Valerie Plame “outing” affair. Ironically, the only person jailed in the whole CIA leak investigation was New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Libby never served a day–President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month sentence essentially on the day he would have reported to prison, all appeals of his sentence having failed.

Manafort is going to be indicted. The FBI had him under investigation since 2014, under a secret FISA warrant. At first, this was related to his work for Ukraine’s then-president and kleptocrat Viktor Yanukovych. In 2015, the investigation was shelved for lack of evidence. Then it began again at some point in 2016 with a new FISA warrant.

As streiff at Redstate noted (and he has experience with these kinds of intelligence matters), FISA warrants cover all forms of surveillance. Phones, email, video are all permitted forms of data collection (a.k.a “wiretapping”) for the subject of the warrant. Also, there are no limitations of where the surveillance could or would be carried out. That means Trump Tower is certainly not off limits.

What does this mean?

The good news. Donald Trump was right. The FBI surveilled Manafort while he was running the Trump campaign. Whatever documents Rep. Devin Nunes saw at the White House SCIF were likely the real thing. The investigation, according to CNN extended “at least into early this year.”

That means after Trump was elected. It means potentially after Trump was president.

It’s inconceivable that then-President Obama didn’t know about surveillance carried out against the president-elect’s campaign staff. It’s inconceivable that Obama didn’t know that Trump’s offices very well could have been under surveillance before the election, or Trump’s conversations with Manafort could have been intercepted afterwards. This entire narrative ties into the classified Comey briefing at Trump Tower. It ties into Trump’s paranoia about wanting Comey to publicly announce that the president was not under investigation.

In March, Politifact published a “timeline of Donald Trump’s false wiretapping charge.” Looks more like Politifact got some of it wrong now–while the president was not the target of the surveillance, it was likely done in Trump Tower, under his nose, and in offices he owns. Trump can claim he is vindicated (if people believe it is a different story). That’s the good news.

In fact, all of this serves to boost Trump’s version of the story, while leaving Manafort in the position of….Scooter Libby. That’s the bad news.

Brace for indictment

The New York Times called the FBI’s tactics against Manafort “shock and awe.” They picked the lock on his door. The FBI raided his home in the early hours of a July day while Manafort was still in bed. They took binders and papers, copied computer data, and photographed “expensive suits” as potential evidence. Then Robert Mueller called Manafort and told him to prepare for an indictment.

Given that President Trump likely knew that the FBI had surveillance on Manfort before Mueller’s appointment, he probably knew this was going to happen sooner or later. For Trump, sooner is better, to get the entire process behind him.

More bad news

We don’t know what Manafort might say to investigators after (if) he is indicted. He may be presented with evidence implicating other Trump campaign staffers, the president’s family, or the president himself. Manafort may “cut a deal” to avoid a state prosecution, immune from Trump’s pardon power. Mueller seems to have all his bases covered.

The only silver lining for Trump would be if he knew, for a fact, he said nothing or did nothing that could implicate himself. His children, on the other hand, may find themselves in a pickle.

Perspectives

BREAKING. Paul Manafort Was Wiretapped and Threatened With Indictment | streiif, Redstate 

https://www.redstate.com/streiff/2017/09/18/breaking.-paul-manafort-wiretapped-threatened-indictment/While Manafort has a residence in Trump Tower, it’s unclear whether FBI surveillance of him took place there.

This is nonsense. If he was targeted under FISA, he was under surveillance no matter where he was. There are no “safe zones.”

To get the warrant, Mr. Mueller’s team had to show probable cause that Mr. Manafort’s home contained evidence of a crime. To be allowed to pick the lock and enter the home unannounced, prosecutors had to persuade a federal judge that Mr. Manafort was likely to destroy evidence.

Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment | TheHill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/351268-nyt-mueller-warned-manafort-to-expect-an-indictmentThe right to pick a lock and enter Manafort’s home unannounced, even with a warrant in hand, means prosecutors had to convince a federal judge that Manafort would likely try to destroy evidence upon making themselves known.

Mueller has reportedly issued a series of subpoenas to pressure witnesses to testify before a grand jury. Manafort’s spokesman reportedly testified before a federal grand jury in Washington on Friday. As did one of Manafort’s former lawyers, during which Mueller claimed an exception to the attorney-client privacy rule.

The Times report came around the same time Monday afternoon that CNN reported the government wiretapped Manafort’s phone during and after the 2016 presidential election.

 

Mueller Reportedly Told Manafort To Brace For An Indictment

https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/mueller-manafort-indictment/This according to a New York Times report published Monday that details the aggressive tactics used by Mueller in his ongoing investigation into Russia’s antics during the campaign. Under warrant, the federal agents reportedly picked a lock and barged into Manafort’s house as he was in bed. The report called them “shock-and-awe” moves, used to move along a process historically prone to a snail’s pace.

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Final thoughts

Obviously, this is an enormous can of worms that just got opened and we’ve barely baited one hook. The questions, at this point, outnumber the answers a thousand to one. What we do know is that Paul Manafort is in trouble–but we’ve always know he was trouble. We know that Trump has a blind spot (or a soft spot) for Russians–but we’ve always known that too.

Mostly, the news here is that Robert Mueller is Eliot Ness. He’s very likely to get his man. Paul Manafort really needs to call Scooter Libby, and the sooner the better.

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