Report: Trump Lawyer Called Manafort Raid An ‘Abuse Of The Judicial Process’

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An attorney for President Donald Trump called the July raid of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort a “gross abuse of the judicial process” and more like something “found and employed in Russia not America,” according to a report from Fox News Thursday. The Wall Street Journal later corroborated the report.

Fox News reported that Trump attorney John Dowd made the statement in an email “to a Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote about the Manafort raid.” Two Journal reporters who wrote about the raid told TPM they hadn’t received such an email from Dowd.

However, reached by phone on Thursday afternoon, a third Journal reporter who wrote about the raid, Jacob Gershman, said he had received Dowd’s email. The Journal published its own story on the email just past 5 p.m. ET. “In an email to the Journal at 3:48 a.m. Eastern Thursday, Mr. Dowd sharply criticized Mr. Mueller for what he called an unnecessary move,” the Journal wrote.

Reached by phone Thursday, Dowd declined to speak to TPM. “I’m sorry, I’m tired out, my friend,” he said.

Fox News reported that it had “obtained” the email. It’s not clear how Fox obtained Dowd’s email to a Journal reporter.

According to Fox News — whose parent company, News Corp, also owns the Journal — Dowd wrote that the raid, which would have required a federal judge’s approval, was carried out for “shock value” and wasn’t necessary, given Manafort’s cooperation with investigators.

“These failures by Special Counsel to exhaust less intrusive methods is a fatal flaw in the warrant process and would call for a Motion to Suppress the fruits of the search,” he wrote, alleging that the FBI agents who carried out the raid collected “privileged and confidential materials prepared for Mr. Manafort by his counsel to aid him in his cooperation with the Congressional committees.”

A day before the raid, which was first reported by the Washington Post, Manafort had met with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers. On the day of the raid, Manafort met with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“[I]t appears the Search Warrant here was obtained by a gross abuse of the judicial process by the Special Counsel’s office,” Dowd wrote. “In addition, given the obvious unlawful deficiencies, this extraordinary invasive tool was employed for its shock value to try to intimidate Mr. Manafort and bring him to his needs [sic]. These methods are normally found and employed in Russia not America.”

The raid has largely been interpreted as a a sign that the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller did not fully trust Manafort to provide all requested materials to investigators.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said news of the raid was “stunning” and “typical of serious criminal investigations dealing w uncooperative or untrusted targets.”

“This kind of raid- in early morning hours w no advance notice- shows astonishing & alarming distrust for Pres’s former campaign chairman,” he added.

Peter Carr, a spokesperson for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment in an email to TPM.

Byron Tau, one of the two Journal reporters who wrote the paper’s initial report on the raid, wrote: “Can’t speak for [co-author Del Quentin Wilber,] but I have no idea what’s going on. I am not in possession of such an email.” Wilber wrote seperately: “First I learned was from your email.”

Two spokespeople for the Journal were not available to comment.

Jason Maloni, a spokesperson for Manafort, wrote in an email, “we have nothing to add.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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