Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been under FBI surveillance since before the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported. The surveillance, which included wiretapping, searches, and other types of observation, reportedly began in 2014, when Manafort was the subject of an investigation into work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for the former ruling party of Ukraine.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court authorized a secret order that permitted the wiretapping.
The intelligence collected by the FBI led to officials’ concerns that Manafort encouraged Russian interference in the election. A second warrant obtained in 2016 required the FBI to provide evidence for the suspicion that Manfort was acting as an agent of a foreign power. That warrant was directly related to the FBI’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and people suspected of operating on behalf of the Russian government.
Manafort was not under surveillance during the period in which he, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer, possibly to discuss information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton. However, wiretapping had taken place during periods when Manafort was known to be in touch with President Donald Trump. Contact between the two continued beyond Manafort’s tenure as campaign chairman and after it was publicly known that Manafort was under FBI investigation. It is unclear whether the President was recorded as part of the investigation.
Revelations of the FBI’s surveillance of Manafort come as the New York Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has used aggressive tactics as head of the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, including an early-morning raid of Manafort’s home in Virginia in July.