The FBI conducted a surprise raid on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s Virginia home in the early morning hours of July 26th.
The raid came one day after Manafort spoke with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the same day he had been scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Agents were reportedly looking for tax documents and foreign banking records related to Manafort’s career as a political adviser in Ukraine.
FBI agents left the house with significant amounts of material, including binders prepared in advance of Manafort’s testimony.
Manafort has already provided over 300 pages of documents to the Senate, including the notes he took during the infamous June 2016 meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who allegedly had some dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“Since Manafort had offered to turn over documents to congressional committees, the raid indicates investigators may have believed he was withholding other material,” reports NY Daily News. Some theorize Manafort was planning to destroy incriminating documents which led to the early morning raid.
Manafort's foreign ties are currently being investigated as part of the Russia probe, but he was already under investigation to determine if his work for the Ukrainian government violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Conservatives worry Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to build a case against Manafort unrelated to the Russia probe, in hopes Manafort will divulge information about other people in exchange for lessening his legal exposure.
Either way, Mueller's decision to conduct a raid has been widely interpreted as a sign that the Russia investigation is intensifying.
“I think it adds a shock and awe enforcement component to what until now has followed a natural path for a white-collar investigation,” said former federal prosecutor Jacob Frenkel.
“A search warrant is very bracing,” said Jack Sherman, the special counsel who oversaw the Whitewater investigation of Bill Clinton in the 1990's. “It’s very invasive and sends a loud statement from the prosecutors to the person that there should be no doubts about the seriousness of the investigation.”
Paul Manafort worked for ten years in Ukraine for a Russia-friendly political party. He advised the Party of Regions in Kiev and helped facilitate the election of Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014 after public protests forced him out of the presidency.
Manafort was hired as Trump’s campaign manager in June 2016. He resigned two months later following rumors that he received $12 million illegally from the Ukrainian government.