Reporters Gave Mueller, FBI Tip On Finding Files Paul Manafort Hid In A Storage Unit Tying Him To Russians

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Prosecutors and FBI agents learned of the existence of a storage locker containing 30 years of business records belonging to Paul Manafort from Associated Press reporters who were investigating him, an FBI agent testified in federal court.

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The agent, Jeff Pfeiffer, testified Friday that four AP employees met with a group of prosecutors and agents on April 11, 2017, to discuss the business dealings of Manafort, President Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign chairman. The news agency later wrote about Manafort’s business ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who’s thought to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Six weeks after meeting the reporters, Pfeiffer said, he interviewed a personal assistant to Manafort who gave him permission and a key to enter the locker and survey its contents. A day later, agents returned with a search warrant and took most of the records, Pfeiffer said at a pretrial hearing in Alexandria, Virginia.

Manafort, 69, who faces a July 25 trial on bank fraud and tax charges, wants a judge to toss out the evidence obtained during that search on the grounds that only Manafort, not the employee, was authorized to give Pfeiffer his initial entry into the locker. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he would decide the matter later.

 

Manafort made a similar request to suppress the storage-locker search in federal court in Washington, where he’s charged with money laundering, acting as an unregistered agent of Ukraine and obstruction of justice. That judge rejected the request last week.

 

On Friday, Ellis also declined Manafort’s request to hold a hearing on whether high-ranking government officials improperly leaked grand jury materials before Manafort was first indicted in October 2017, including in the meeting with AP reporters. Defense lawyers claim that the leaks tainted potential jurors by smearing Manafort.

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  AP
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