Trump Questions Why FBI Left Him in Dark About Manafort Probe

June 3, 2018 Updated: June 22, 2018

President Donald Trump on June 1 questioned the FBI’s motives for carrying on a secret investigation into his campaign manager in 2016 without informing him.

“As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In a follow-up message, Trump said that Manafort was only with the campaign for a short time. The president also pointed to Manafort’s past credentials, which include working for President Ronald Reagan and Sen. Bob Dole, likely to show that Manafort was hired for his experience.

“We should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!” Trump wrote.

Manafort joined Trump’s campaign in March 2016 and served briefly as the campaign manager from June to August that year. He stepped down amid reports of his work in Ukraine.

Trump appears to be suggesting that the FBI’s motives for not disclosing the investigation were political. The president may also be concerned that the FBI kept the probe secret because Manafort was one of several Trump-campaign team members to be wiretapped before and after the 2016 election.

Manafort was spied on from sometime in 2016 to early 2017, including times when he spoke to Trump, according to leaks to the media from anonymous sources. The information collected while Manafort was spied on was forwarded to special counsel Robert Mueller.

The FBI eventually conducted a raid on Manafort’s home and later charged him with a range of alleged crimes going back more than a decade. Manafort pleaded not guilty and is fighting the charges in court.

Trump received at least two security briefings while he was a presidential candidate. Sunday’s messages indicate that the FBI’s investigation into his team was kept out of the briefings, despite their sensitive nature during a crucial time in the 2016 campaign.

The Obama administration secretly surveilled at least seven of Trump’s associates. The rationale for the spying is now being questioned, based on revelations that campaign volunteer Carter Page was wiretapped by the FBI, which used a warrant based on an unverified dossier funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Similarly, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was surveilled six months before the conversation with the Russian ambassador that led to his indictment on charges of lying to the FBI.

Mueller charged Manafort in two separate lawsuits with conspiring to launder money, lying to investigators, committing tax and bank fraud, and failing to register as a foreign agent. None of the charges are related to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which Mueller was originally appointed to investigate.

The judge in Manafort’s case rebuked Mueller’s team during a hearing in early May, saying that the prosecutors are more interested in taking down Trump than securing a conviction against Manafort.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” District Judge T.S. Ellis III told the prosecutors. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”

Ellis demanded to view a classified “scope memo” sent to Mueller by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which outlines what the special counsel is authorized to probe. The judge demanded to see the memo because the charges brought against Manafort are well outside the scope of the Russia probe.

Correction: The article was updated to reflect that the raid on the home of Paul Manafort was not “predawn” as was incorrectly reported in media.

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