Manafort demands DOJ release all intercepted communications with foreigners.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is calling on the Justice Department to release transcripts of any intercepted communications he may have had with foreigners.
Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant, also called on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the leak of details of secret surveillance warrants obtained by U.S. investigators.
“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,” Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement.
On Monday, CNN reported that investigators obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Manafort prior to the presidential election. The wiretapping continued into early this year, according to CNN’s unnamed sources.
It is unclear whether the warrant was obtained before or after Manafort left the Trump campaign in August. According to CNN, the surveillance on Manafort, who has a residence in Trump Tower in New York, picked up conversations he had with Russian operatives about the election.
That was the second FISA warrant obtained by investigators against Manafort. The FBI also conducted surveillance on the longtime Republican operative during a 2014 investigation into his consulting work for a Ukrainian political party. That surveillance reportedly ended without charges being followed prior to Manafort joining the Trump campaign last May.
Manafort is currently at the center of a sprawling investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
That probe began as an inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, but Mueller appears lately to have focused on Manafort’s business dealings. Mueller conducted an early-morning raid on Manafort’s Virginia residence at the end of July. The New York Times reported on Monday that Mueller, a former FBI director, told Manafort that he will be indicted.
Whether or not Manafort committed a crime — and he has not been charged with anything — the leak of information about FISA warrants is a federal crime, Maloni noted in his statement.
“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Maloni said.
Information about FISA warrants is classified and tightly held by government officials and the federal judges that approve them. Unauthorized disclosures of FISA information is also a felony.
At a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March, then-FBI Director James Comey testified that the leak of FISA information is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In his statement, Maloni called on the Justice Department’s watchdog to “immediately” open an investigation into the leak and to “examine the motivations behind the previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent.”
Trump’s Justice Department has recently ramped up its efforts to get to the bottom of a spate of classified leaks.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are overseeing the effort, which includes a task force involving FBI agents.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment about the Manafort leak.