/ 10 August 2017

FBI raids former Trump campaign adviser’s home as part of Russia probe

Manafort has been a key figure in probes into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US election
Manafort has been a key figure in probes into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US election

FBI agents have seized documents from the home of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump‘s former campaign manager, as part of a probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A Manafort spokesman confirmed the search on Wednesday.

The Washington Post, which first reported the raid, described it as a pre-dawn search of Manafort’s home in the Washington suburb of Alexandria on July 26.

It came a day after Manafort met staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Post said, citing unidentified people familiar with the probe.

The Post said federal agents took away “documents and other materials” acting on a search warrant from independent special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Investigators were looking for tax documents and foreign banking records, the New York Times reported.

“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr Manafort’s residences,” Manafort spokesman, Jalon Malobi, said in a statement.

“Mr Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well.”

US intelligence agencies say Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a covert effort to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort last year and boost Trump’s chances of winning.

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said the timing of the raid points to a “view that Manafort did not cooperate fully with the Senate Intelligence Committee and had not turned over all the documents relevant to this investigation”.

Halkett said the raid as well as Mueller’s decision last week to convene a grand jury suggests the Russia probe is gaining steam.

Key figure

Manafort has been a key figure in the congressional and federal investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in last year’s presidential election.

He has denied any wrong doing.

The use of a search warrant shows law enforcement officials have convinced a judge there is probable cause to believe a crime may have been committed.

One focus of the multiple probes is a June 2016 meeting Manafort attended with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr.

That meeting, held at Trump Tower in New York, was described to Trump Jr as part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign by passing along information that could be used against Clinton.

He managed Trump’s campaign until he was forced to resign in August amid questions about his dealing in Ukraine and work for the country’s pro-Russia former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort has been cooperating with the congressional committees in their Russia probes, meeting with staff members behind closed doors and turning over documents.

He also has been in talks with them about testifying publicly.

Committee leaders said they wanted to discuss not just the campaign, but also Manafort’s political work on behalf of interests in Ukraine.

Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory was one reason the US Congress defied Trump and passed new sanctions on Russia last month.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately return a request for comment on the report.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, declined to comment. – Al Jazeera