“A recently declassified government document suggests the FBI opened its most recent investigation of Paul Manafort in January 2016, two months before President Trump hired the lobbyist as a senior official in his campaign. The revelation is prompting new questions about why the bureau did not provide the GOP candidate with a defensive briefing.
The information about the start of the Manafort probe was contained in footnote 332 of a spreadsheet that FBI analysts constructed analyzing the lack of corroboration for Christopher Steele’s now infamous dossier alleging Trump and Russia colluded to hijack the 2016 election, an allegation that has since been disproven.
The spreadsheet was declassified earlier this month, revealing the FBI found little to no corroboration for Steele’s allegations against Trump but nonetheless used the dossier to support a FISA surveillance warrant to spy on the Trump campaign through adviser Carter Page.
The information in the footnote and spreadsheet states an “opening EC” or electronic communication was generated in the Manafort probe on Jan. 13, 2016, and by August 2016 “Manafort is an active subject of a money laundering and tax evasion criminal case out of Washington Field Office.”
The timing suggested in the spreadsheet is consistent with an account from Ukrainian prosecutors, who revealed last year they were summoned on short notice to Washington by the Obama White House for a series of meetings in January 2016 during which Justice Department officials pressed them to find evidence against Manafort and his work for the Ukrainian Party of Regions. The prosecutors also stated the Obama DOJ officials asked the Ukrainians to drop their investigation of the Hunter Biden-related Burisma Holdings gas company and let the FBI take it over.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson last week wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for verification of the claim in the spreadsheet and demanding to know why Trump wasn’t given a courtesy warning before he hired Manafort if in fact the probe into the lobbyist started in January 2016 like the spreadsheet stated.
Presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, have gotten defensive briefings over the years when an issue involving national security concerns affects their campaigns.
“What steps, if any, did the FBI take to alert the Trump campaign about its investigation into Manafort when he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016?” Johnson wrote. Wray has yet to respond. (Read more: Just the News, 10/26/2020) (Archive)