Paul Manafort, former campaign chair for President Donald Trump, was wiretapped by U.S. investigators before and after the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported Monday night, citing several unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
An unnamed U.S. official familiar with the intelligence later confirmed to CBS News that the federal government wiretapped Manafort.
Manafort is a key figure in the federal probe into Russia’s election interference. The former Trump campaign aide reportedly owes money to pro-Russian interests and has funds tied up in Cyprus, a tax haven. He also attended the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that Donald Trump, Jr. arranged with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
Federal agents raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, in July, where they reportedly obtained financial documents. After the raid, Mueller’s team warned Manafort to expect an indictment, the New York Times reported Monday night.
Federal investigators obtained the authorization for the surveillance from the secret court that manages matters related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) some time after the FBI began investigating Manafort in 2014, according to CNN. Manafort was initially under investigation for work he did on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. The federal government stopped surveilling Manafort in 2016, per CNN.
Federal investigators then restarted surveillance with a new FISA warrant as part of their probe into Russia’s election meddling and continued that surveillance into early this year, CNN reported.
The federal government was wiretapping Manafort during a time when he was speaking with Trump, but it’s not clear whether Trump was caught up in the surveillance, CNN reported.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has obtained information from these communications, per CNN. Three sources told CNN that some of the intelligence gathered prompted concern that Manafort encouraged Russians to help the Trump campaign, but two other sources told CNN that the information was not conclusive.
Trump in March claimed that the Obama administration had his “wires tapped” at Trump Tower, but the Justice Department has acknowledged there’s no evidence to back up this claim. Manafort does own a home in Trump Tower, but he also has a house in Alexandria, Virginia.