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White House prepares to throw Manafort under the bus

The president’s team may be revving up its engines to run over Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chair, following a revelation that the political consultant offered ‘private briefings’ to a Russian oligarch while he was representing Donald Trump.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb told Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev that it would be ‘truly shocking’ if the ex-Trump aide ‘tried to monetize his relationship w the president.’

According to Talev, Cobb said,’ It certainly would never have been tolerated by the president or his team.’

The president’s team may be revving up its engines to run over Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chair, following a revelation that the political consultant offered ‘private briefings’ to a Russian oligarch while he was representing Donald Trump 

The White House has actively distanced the president from Manafort, a political consultant who’s under federal investigation. A spokesman for Trump claimed earlier this year that the president’s ex-campaign manager was nothing more than a bit player in the summer preceding the general election. 

Trump dodged a question today from a reporter asking when he and his former aide last spoke. It was reportedly while Manafort was being wiretapped. 

Cobb’s latest comments on the Manafort saga suggest that Team Trump may be gearing up for battle as the special counsel investigation hits closer and closer to home.

Robert Mueller’s team is said to have asked Cobb to produce documents on the firing of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Mueller also wants to see communications pertaining to Trump’s dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey, as well as a related charge that Trump called Comey a ‘nut job’ in front of two Russian diplomats.

Six current and former White House aides have been summoned to come before the special counsel, including Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer, his former chief of staff Reince Priebus and his current communications director Hope Hicks.

Spicer famously said during a March 20 news conference that Manafort ‘played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time’ in Trump’s winning campaign.

Manafort was with Trump’s campaign for five months, beginning in March of 2016 in the role of chairman. He was brought on to manage Trump’s convention strategy but ended up with the top job after the Republican presidential candidate fired his previous campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

Trump replaced Manafort in August with Kellyanne Conway amid charges that the political consultant accepted million of dollars from an ousted, pro-Russian Ukranian regime. Manafort allegedly received $12.7 million in an off-the-book payment he claims he had nothing to do with.

MANAFORT AND THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: WHAT WE KNOW

March 29, 2016: Republican candidate Donald Trump announces ex lobbyist Paul Manafort as his campaign convention manager

June 9, 2016: Manafort, Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner have a meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who claimed she had information about Hillary Clinton that could help the campaign 

June 20, 2016: Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign manager

July 31, 2016: The New York Times reports on Manafort’s business deals with  Party of the Regions, a centrist pro-Russia political party of Ukraine

August  19, 2016: Trump removes Manafort as his campaign manager

June 15, 2017: The Washington Post reports Robert Mueller is investigating the finances of Trump associates

July 26, 2017: The FBI picks the lock and raids Manafort’s Virginia home and tells him he will be indicted, according to Monday’s New York Times report

Source: Factcheck.org 

He’s on the rack with the feds now for allegations that he may have interacted with Russian operatives while Trump was running for president.

The Washington Post opened up a new chapter in the Manafort accusations on Wednesday when it said that Manafort sent a July 7, 2016 email to an intermediary shortly before President Trump accepted the Republican Party nomination.

In it, he asked that the person get a message to Russia aluminum magnate and former business partner Oleg Deripaska.

‘If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,’ Manafort wrote. 

The timing of the email, which a source read to the Washington Post, is certain to interest investigators. Donald Trump Jr. engaged in a series of emails with a British music publicist beginning June 7 that culminated in a meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has obtained tens of thousands of documents. Deripaska is referred to by his initials in emails.

In another email, from April, Manafort mentions positive press clippings about his powerful new role – and puts forward the idea of leveraging it to collect past business debts. 

‘How do we use to get whole?’ he wrote, according to another email described to the Post.

Deripaska offered to cooperate with congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the elections, but committees declined to accept his terms of getting full immunity from prosecution in exchange. House and Senate panels turned him down in May, according to the New York Times. 

Manafort in a July 2016 email offered to provide private briefings to Russia aluminum magnate and former business partner Oleg Deripaska

Manafort in a July 2016 email offered to provide private briefings to Russia aluminum magnate and former business partner Oleg Deripaska

Oleg Deripaska, billionaire and president of United Co. Rusal, pauses in a Bloomberg Television interview during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) at the Expoforum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, June 2, 2017. The event program is based around the theme 'Achieving a New Balance in the Global Economic Arena'

Oleg Deripaska, billionaire and president of United Co. Rusal, pauses in a Bloomberg Television interview during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) at the Expoforum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, June 2, 2017. The event program is based around the theme ‘Achieving a New Balance in the Global Economic Arena’

Electronic surveillance of Manafort picked up his conversations with Russians that took place during the 2016 campaign, according to a report.

FBI agents wiretapped Manafort in an investigation that runs back to 2014.

That probe preceded his time as a top Trump campaign official, and is believed to have initially centered on undisclosed work for Ukrainian entities.

But surveillance also occurred during the 2016 campaign, and according to CBS news included conversations Manafort had with Russians. 

 A former U.S. official told the network the conversations Manafort had with Russians were ‘about the campaign’ and potentially include Trump conversations.

Trump has previously suggested that he spoke with Manafort on occasion as president.

The revelation that Manafort is considered significant not only because someone so closely connected to Trump has been under such scrutiny.

Such surveillance would have taken place under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant – which would have required a judge who sits on a special court to sign on off it based on a showing of probable cause.

 CNN reported Monday night that Manafort had been under surveillance. The network reported that intercepts provoked concerns that Manafort had urged Russians to help the campaign.

The Network reported that authorities got a second FISA warrant related to the probe into connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.  

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump’s walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016

The building where former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has a residence is shown August 10, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort's residence was searched for evidence in late July 2016 as part of the Russia investigation being conducted by special investigator Robert Mueller

The building where former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has a residence is shown August 10, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort’s residence was searched for evidence in late July 2016 as part of the Russia investigation being conducted by special investigator Robert Mueller

Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, appeared before a federal grand jury in July.

That is the same month that federal investigators swooped down on his Virginia home and raided it for documents after getting a search warrant. The New York Times reported that investigators picked his lock and surprised him in his bedroom.

Maloni said in a statement: ‘If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged.’

He continued: ‘The U.S Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent. Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ – there is nothing there. ‘

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