FBI agents raided the home in Alexandria, Va., of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, arriving in the pre-dawn hours late last month and seizing materials related to the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports. The raid, which occurred without warning on July 26, signaled an aggressive approach by special counsel Robert Mueller in dealing with a key figure in the inquiry. Manafort has been under increasing pressure as the Mueller team looked into his personal finances and his professional career as a highly paid foreign political consultant.
Using a search warrant, agents appeared the day Manafort was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and a day after he met voluntarily with Senate Intelligence Committee staff members. The search warrant requested documents related to tax, banking and other matters. Agents departed the Manafort residence with a trove of material, including binders prepared ahead of Manafort’s congressional testimony. Investigators in the Russia inquiry have previously sought documents with subpoenas, which are less intrusive and confrontational than a search warrant. With a warrant, agents can inspect a physical location and seize any useful information. To get a judge to sign off on a search warrant, prosecutors must show that there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. “I think it adds a shock and awe enforcement component to what until now has followed a natural path for a white-collar investigation,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor.