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Aug 09 2017

The Russian Connection: FBI Raids Before Dawn

While the news cycle was focused on almost White House communications director Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci’s potty mouth, a raid was taking place in the predawn hours of July 26 in Alexandria, Virginia. The FBI was executing a search warrant on the home of former trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, looking to seize documents and other materials related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.

Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

It could also have been intended to send a message to President Trump’s former campaign chairman that he should not expect gentle treatment or legal courtesies from Mueller’s team. [..]

The significance of the records seized from Manafort’s apartment is unclear.

Manafort has provided documents to both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate and House intelligence committees. The documents are said to include notes Manafort took while attending a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016.

The raid occurred the day after Manafort had met in a privates session with the Senate intelligence Committee and turned over the meeting notes to them. So why the raid? Speculation is special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to get Manafort to flip.

Over at Raw Story, Travis Gettys reported that Trump started tweeting a few hours after the raid.

He started his morning at 7:15 a.m. on July 26 by tweeting a complaint at Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who had voted the day before against advancing the Republican health care bill that ultimately failed, and then at 8:55 a.m. the president announced a ban on transgender military service members.

But a pair of tweets, from 9:48 and 9:52 a.m., suggests Trump may have been tipped off to the FBI raid of his campaign chairman’s home in Virginia — which went unreported for exactly two weeks.

Gettys notes that raid was also  the same day that NBC broke the news that a close associate of Manafort’s was connected to top-tier Russian mobsters. And this:

The Manafort raid took place hours before some of the most important testimony yet in the congressional probe of Trump’s campaign ties to Russia.

Bill Browder — once the biggest portfolio investor in Russia but now a leading critic of Vladimir Putin — told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Russian president was perhaps the richest man in the world but was unable to disperse his ill-gotten fortune due to U.S. sanctions.

Trump and then-communications director soaked up most of the day’s news coverage with their outrageous tweets and bizarre CNN interviews — and Anthony Scaramucci later that night threatened an FBI investigation against then-chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Scaramucci called in to CNN the following morning for an even more bizarre interview and capped off the following day with a profane rant to The New Yorker.

There is also more evidence that Trump is really scared. About an hour after the Washington Post story on the raid published, Trump’s favorite salacious tabloid The National Enquirer dropped a story implying Manafort was involved in a “sick sex scandal” that involved affairs with women who were significantly younger than his wife. What the purpose of that tidbit is unclear but the tabloid is Trump’s favorite place to smear his perceived enemies.