The bad news just keeps on coming for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Yesterday we reported that a federal judge denied Manafort’s request to loosen his bail conditions, saying he can’t use some of his assets to meet a $10 million bond obligation.
Manafort’s situation took a turn for the worse back in February when Rick Gates, his close associate for many years announced he was turning state’s evidence and was cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.
Last Wednesday we also reported that a federal judge rejected all of the legal arguments that Manafort’s lawyer made in his long-shot attempt to rein in the Mueller probe.
And now we have discovered that one of Manafort’s ex-employees took the FBI to a Manafort storage locker that was chock full of his confidential financial records.
It appears that the high-flying international crook is having trouble keeping people loyal to him. When faced with pressure from the FBI they are folding as fast as you can say “jail time.”
“People do strange things when confronted with authoritative FBI agents,” said Sol Wisenberg, a criminal defense attorney.
The second Manafort turncoat is now at the center of a legal dispute about what evidence can be used in the government’s case against Manafort. The newly-discovered evidence may be the final nails in Manafort’s coffin.
Manafort’s lawyers disclosed the existence of the former employee in an April 6, 2018, court filing in which they asked the federal judge involved in the Manafort case to prevent the financial documents found in a storage unit from being used in the case against him.
In this affidavit they made the argument that the FBI violated Manafort’s Fourth Amendment rights because the former employee didn’t have the legal authority to show them the storage locker.
The employee told the FBI agent that he “performs a variety of functions for Manafort and his companies as directed by Manafort,” and received a salary from Manafort. He had moved boxes of files from one storage unit to a second, larger storage unit in Alexandria, Virginia and led the FBI agent to the storage facility.
According to reports, “One box was marked as containing expenses, paid bills, invoices, and legal complaints. Another box was had info on the ‘Ukraine Campaign.’
The cooperating former Manafort employee gave the FBI agent “a key to the lock and described the contents of the unit.” He also gave the FBI agent “written consent” to search the storage unit, and unlocked it for him.
The FBI agent knew right away that the unit’s contents might be important, because the FBI started surveillance on the storage unit to see if anybody went in to take out any files. The day after seeing the storage unit, the FBI agent filed a 20 page affidavit with a judge.
Although the employee’s name was not in the affidavit, the lease names a man named Alexander Trusko as the storage unit’s “Occupant.” The lease also names Rick Gates and Paul Manafort as having access to the storage unit.
It is thought that the financial records might contain additional evidence about tax evasion and money laundering that were mentioned in the indictments issued against Manafort last fall. Also, they are expected to show more details about his relationships with Russian oligarchs and Putin’s friends in the Ukraine. These relationships had been in existence for years before he became Trump’s campaign manager and they may show the connection between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Needless to say these are documents that Robert Mueller is very interested in and they may even be enough to get Manafort to start cooperating with his investigation. If that happens then Trump is surely doomed.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.