Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his wife were asleep in their Alexandria, Virginia apartment early on the morning of July 26 when a team of armed FBI agents burst through the door with a search warrant focusing on possible crimes committed as far back as 2006.
Those new details, including Kathleen Manafort’s shaken response to being searched for weapons, are included in a CNN report out late Tuesday on the accelerating investigation into Manafort and other Trump campaign associates.
A source briefed on the investigation told CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team explicitly notified Manafort that they planned to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes.
While former federal prosecutors have suggested that Mueller may be trying to pressure Manafort into coughing up any dirt he may have on other members Trump associates, they told TPM that it was standard practice to notify an investigate target of a pending indictment and that Mueller’s team would not use this warning as an empty threat.
“If he’s been told that he’s a target—that he’s likely to be indicted—I think the way you interpret that is he’s likely to be indicted,” said Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor who served as special counsel to Mueller when he was assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Criminal Division.
A spokesman for Manafort declined CNN’s request for comment.
The former Trump campaign official, who has previously denied any wrongdoing, is under scrutiny for the web of shell companies he used to purchase real estate, his offshore bank accounts, and the millions he received in payments from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. CNN noted that the search warrant covers much of the period when Manafort was working in Ukraine.
Agents reportedly took documents related to taxes and banking, as well as other materials relevant to the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
It is standard FBI practice to carry weapons and check residents for the same during a home search, but former federal prosecutors told TPM that the use of a “no-knock” raid was notable.
“They could pick his lock to go into his house which meant that they must’ve had strong evidence that he was going to destroy documents,” Nick Akerman, a former prosecutor on the Watergate investigation, told TPM. “That would have to be laid out in the search warrant application.”