It is now thought by many the Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be trying to “turn” Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager, and use him against the President. This may account for the wee hours of the morning FBI raid on the Manafort home last week. How tough will this be on the President, and is there a smoking gun here for Mueller to use?
As Written by Sarah Westwood and Gabby Morrongiello for the Washington Examiner:
The increasingly aggressive investigation into President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has raised new questions about whether the special counsel’s expanding Russia probe could ultimately engulf more members of Trump’s inner circle — and even the president himself.
And prosecutors’ interest in a 2011 lawsuit against Manafort, which accused him of aiding in an international embezzlement scheme, could signal a new line of inquiry far beyond looking into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.
Several people close to the process said Manafort’s legal situation appears to be more precarious than that of anyone else currently under investigation by the special counsel. And unlike other former Trump associates who have caught the attention of congressional and Justice Department investigators — such as former adviser Carter Page, who played only a tangential role in the campaign — Manafort maintained a long and significant relationship with the president and his closest aides. His past proximity to Trump could cause the White House political headaches if Manafort ultimately faces criminal charges.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators appear to be focused on Manafort’s financial history and the political work he did for a now-exiled Ukrainian leader, people familiar with the matter told the Washington Examiner.
While some legal experts have speculated that the Justice Department’s aggressive pursuit of Manafort could signal its intention to force him into testifying against Trump, two sources close to the investigation said Manafort faces a set of legal woes that have nothing to do with the president.
“No matter how much pressure Mueller brings to bear on Paul, nothing will make him manufacture evidence against President Trump,” said one person close to Manafort.