Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Politics: The FBI conducted a predawn raid of Paul Manafort's home as part of its Russia probe

FILE PHOTO: Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Trump's staff listens during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York

The FBI conducted a predawn July raid on the home of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The FBI conducted a predawn July raid on the home of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as part of its ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to lead the probe after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in May, left Manafort's home "with various records," according to the Post.

Manafort has been cooperating with investigators' requests for relevant documents. But the search warrant obtained by the FBI in July indicates that Mueller managed to convince a federal judge that Manafort "could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena," the Post reported.

Manafort, a longtime Republican operative who worked for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine for nearly a decade before joining the Trump campaign, attended a meeting with two Russian lobbyists at Trump Tower in June 2016 that the campaign did not disclose at the time. Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended.

Manafort has also come under scrutiny for his tendency to form shell companies to purchase real estate.

That preference, while not illegal, has raised questions about how much Manafort has been paid throughout the decades he's spent as a political consultant, and by whom.

Last August, The New York Times discovered that a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine designated $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments for Manafort, who had advised the party and its former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, for nearly a decade.

The ledger, and Manafort's activities in Ukraine more broadly, have come under scrutiny since Yanukovych was ousted in 2014. Manafort was associated with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies in Cyprus, dating back to 2007, NBC reported in March.

On March 22, The Associated Press reported that Manafort was paid $10 million between 2006 and 2009 to lobby on behalf of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally, using a strategic "model" that would "greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success."

Manafort has insisted that he has never received any illicit cash payments. But he has a "pattern" of using shell companies to purchase homes "in all-cash deals," as WNYC has reported, and then transferring those properties into his own name for no money and taking out large mortgages against them.



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