The FBI wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, CNN reported. Manafort is at the centre of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election.
Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that concerned investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with Trump’s campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election, has been provided details of these communications.
A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centred on work undertaken for Ukraine’s former ruling party.
The surveillance was discontinued during 2016 due to lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.
The FBI then restarted the surveillance during 2016 after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early 2017.
Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election. FISA warrants require the approval the Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
The second FISA warrant was likely obtained because of intercepted communications between Paul Manafort and the Russians.
Paul Manafort previously has denied that he ever “knowingly” communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election and also has denied participating in any Russian efforts to “undermine the interests of the United States.”
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