Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski slammed the FBI on Tuesday for failing to inform him last year that Paul Manafort was under federal surveillance before he was hired as the campaign’s chairman.
Manafort, who faces a 12-count indictment including felony money laundering charges, was reportedly the subject of wiretaps as early as 2014, authorized by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court (FISA) warrant.
Lewandowski said on ‘Fox & Friends’ that the FBI should have given the Trump campaign a heads-up since it didn’t have the authority to do comprehensive background checks using government databases.
If it is true that Paul was under a FISA warrant prior to coming under the campaign, then I think the FBI should have probably notified the campaign and said, “Look, you’ve got a person here who’s currently under surveillance; we want to raise that issue to you so you are aware of it”.’
SHOULD HAVE WARNED US: Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski blasted the FBI on Monday for failing to warn him that campaign chairman Paul Manafort was under federal surveillance
Manafort was reportedly the subject of wiretaps as early as 2014, authorized by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court (FISA) warrant
Manafort was placed on house arrest as a condition of his release on $10 million bond as he awaits trial on a host of financial felonies
‘Never was I contacted. Never was the president or the candidate contacted about any relationship that Paul Manafort might have had by a government authority.’
A Justice Department official told DailyMail.com on Monday evening that part of the motivation for keeping quiet may have been investigators’ curiosity about whether Manafort’s allegedly ill-gotten millions might have found their way into Trump’s campaign.
‘It could also be that the FBI, which was then an Obama agency, was looking to trap Trump somehow, or at least to sit back while he got mixed up with the worst of the worst,’ the official said.
Lewandowski emphasized that the government had access to information about Manafart, including his foreign back accounts and his business dealings with a pro-Russia former president of Ukraine, that the campaign couldn’t have known about.
‘What the government employees go flew is a very intense, background check. where you have to disclose all of your contacts with foreign government officials. you have to disclose all of your bank accounts,’ he said. ‘We didn’t have that opportunity to do that.’
A Justice Department official says the FBI, then run by the later-fired James Comey, may have been trying to set up the Trump campaign by keeping them in the dark about Manafort
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation brought its first criminal charges on Monday and yielded three arrests – including one low-level guilty plea
The FBI, Lewandowski insisted, should have briefed the campaign ‘just from a security standpoint’ and said: ‘Look, we’ve got some concerns about this person. You’re still welcome to hire them but at least we will make you aware of it.’
‘That never occurred,’ he said.
Lewandowski repeated the official White House line that indictments facing Manafort and his former protege Rick Gates ‘had obviously nothing to do with their tenure at the campaign.’
‘They were from incidents that took place more than a decade ago.’
‘And it goes on to show that there was no collusion or cooperation or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia,’ he insisted.
Manafort and Gates were confined to their homes in Virginia on Monday as they await trials on a laundry list of federal felony charges.
Lewandowski also said Tuesday: ‘I have not spoken to anybody from the FBI…I will cooperate with any investigation’
The pair entered not guilty pleas Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom, telling a magistrate judge that they’ll fight the Justice Department in court.
Manafort is a veteran lobbyist now charged with conspiring against the United States and money-laundering on a gigantic scale, following an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Along with Gates, he surrendered to federal authorities early on Monday as the first charges from the probe of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were unsealed.
Manafort is free on $10 million bond and Gates agreed to a $5 million bond. Both will be on ‘home detention’ as a condition of their release, and they have surrendered their passports. They are expected back in court on Thursday.