Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski blamed the FBI on Monday for not warning the Trump campaign about one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
A 12-count indictment against Manafort was unsealed Monday.
“If the public reports are true, and there was a time where Paul Manafort was under a FISA warrant before coming to the Trump campaign, why is it the FBI never reached out to me as the campaign manager, never reached out to Donald Trump, and said: ‘Look, you might want to pause for a second and take a look before you bring this guy on board as a volunteer to hunt delegates to you,’” Lewandowski told Fox Business Network’s Charles Payne.
CNN first reported in September that investigators wiretapped Manafort before and after the campaign, citing unnamed sources.
Another former Trump campaign official, Rick Gates, was also indicted on Friday, according to unsealed records released Monday. The felony charges against Gates and Manafort include money laundering and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty earlier in October to making false statements to the FBI, in a case unsealed Monday.
“If Paul Manafort did something in 2006, a decade before he was brought on as volunteer to the Trump campaign, then he should be accountable for that, and he and his associate, Rick Gates, have been indicted on 12 counts of money laundering and probably tax evasion and other things which have absolutely nothing to do with the campaign, have nothing to do with the Russia investigation and have nothing to do with the President,” Lewandowski said separately.
Lewandowski and Manafort’s behind-the-scenes disagreements were the subject of multiple reports during their time together on the campaign. In September of this year, Lewandowksi said that that “anybody” — including, he said, “Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, or Rick Gates or Carter Page” — attempted to improperly influence the election, “I hope they go to jail for the rest of their lives.”
Lewandowski added Monday, referring to Manafort: “He was under a FISA warrant, supposedly, both before and after his tenure at the campaign, and the FBI never notified the leading presidential candidate for a major Republican party race? Never notified him of a potential problem? This is a problem with the FBI if you ask me.”
Lewandowski also implied that the indictments were political in nature, and that they had been used to secure the position of special counsel Robert Mueller.
He noted that Trump is expected to announce a new Federal Reserve chairman as soon as this week, and that Trump was advocating for an overhaul of the tax code. He also said there had been “a significant amount of pressure from members of Congress” for Trump to dismiss Mueller.
“All of the sudden, at the last minute, at the last hour on a Friday night, charges have been brought forward?” he asked.
Lewandowski concluded: “Look, if Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are guilty of tax evasion, money laundering, or hiding their accounts in Cyprus, or whatever it is, they should absolutely be held accountable. But they should be held accountable independent of the President, because the President had nothing to do with coordination, collusion or cooperation with Russia, nobody at the campaign did that I’m aware of.”