Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Former Trump Campaign Chairman and Russian mob bagman Paul Manafort contemplates spending his declining years fetching Bubba sammiches from the prison canteen. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 

So, after a hiatus, the leaks are again flowing from the Mueller investigation. Two new bits of information popped today.

Paul Manafort was wiretapped.

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.

Hopefully, the people who bashed Devin Nunes as a crank will not be so smug now–but it is doubtful because smug is mostly what they are.

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.

The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year.

Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives. Such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.

If you’re interested, “at least into early this year” means that well after Trump was president-elect…and quite possibly while he was president because January 20 is pretty damned early in the year…Manafort’s communications were being intercepted under FISA. And, by the way, “wiretap” is a very inaccurate term. FISA warrants allow surveillance of communications. Period. Full stop. In the only governing case of its type, the courts have ruled that FISA does not prohibit the use of video surveillance. So Manafort’s emails were being monitored, his landline was under surveillance, his smartphone was under surveillance and quite possibly his smartphone had been compromised to allow video surveillance.

While Manafort has a residence in Trump Tower, it’s unclear whether FBI surveillance of him took place there.

This is nonsense. If he was targeted under FISA, he was under surveillance no matter where he was. There are no “safe zones.”

Mueller’s prosecutors threatened Manafort with indictment.

Like the CNN story, this one is anonymously sourced.

Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

It is unusual for a prosecutor to seek a search warrant against someone who, like Mr. Manafort, had already put his lawyer in contact with the Justice Department. No search warrants were executed during the investigations by Mr. Starr or Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a special counsel appointed during the George W. Bush administration to investigate the leak of the name of a C.I.A. officer.

To get the warrant, Mr. Mueller’s team had to show probable cause that Mr. Manafort’s home contained evidence of a crime. To be allowed to pick the lock and enter the home unannounced, prosecutors had to persuade a federal judge that Mr. Manafort was likely to destroy evidence.

Said Mr. Gurulé, the former federal prosecutor, “Clearly they didn’t trust him.”

My level of sympathy for Manafort approaches zero. Manafort epitomizes P. J. O’Rourke’s observation: “When you looked at the Republicans you saw the scum off the top of business. When you looked at the Democrats you saw the scum off the top of politics.” He is basically a wholly owned entity of the Russian mob. His indictment was a foregone conclusion if the scope of Mueller’s inquiry ever went beyond investigating “collusion” with Russia and took in his business dealings. Likewise, I have no sympathy or respect for people who throw their weight around just because they can. Mueller and his posse fit squarely in this. They are obviously out for scalps to hang on towel dispenser in the restroom or wherever prosecutors keep their trophies and they are going to do it one way or another.

We can bet, however, when he is indicted it will be on garden-variety money laundering and tax evasion charges and not on anything to do with Russia. And then the question will be will Trump allow the prosecution to proceed?

Ben Shapiro summarizes nicely: