According to a new Fox News report, the FBI’s raid on Paul Manafort’s home in July was far more extension, invasive, and intimidating than was originally reported. And that’s saying something, since the original reports sounded bad enough. In them, we learned that Robert Mueller’s gang of agents stormed Manafort’s house in the pre-dawn hours, less than a day after the former Trump campaign manager willingly cooperated with congressional committees to provide testimony and documents.
But according to the Fox News report, the raid was especially intrusive, which sheds new, disturbing light on Mueller’s intentions.
From Fox News:
The FBI’s July raid on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Virginia home lasted 10 hours and involved a dozen federal agents, who seized documents labeled “attorney-client,” according to a source close to the investigation.
The July raid was first reported earlier this month, but the new details reflect the intensity and scope of the search, which the source described as “heavy-handed, designed to intimidate.” Elements of the account were backed up by a second individual also not authorized to speak on the record.
“This is an unusual step, there is no getting around it,” former Justice Department official Tom Dupree told Fox News. “It is an aggressive step. I think it sends a very strong message both to Manafort himself and potentially other people who might be targets of this investigation that [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller is going to pursue this aggressively.”
Heavy-handed. Designed to intimidate.
What is going on here?
Because a judge apparently found enough probable cause to grant Mueller his search warrant, we can’t assume that the special counsel is simply going completely rogue in his investigation. Unfortunately, due to the partisan makeup of Mueller’s team and his close relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, we can neither assume that everything is on the up and up. If we could, that would have damning implications for Mr. Manafort.
What we can conclude, however, is that this investigation is being pursued with an extraordinary amount of aggression. Certainly, much more aggresion than the Bureau brought to bear on the Hillary Clinton investigation last year, but we’ll hold our tongues on that for the time being. Now the question to be answered is “why.”
Does Mueller really believe he can connect Manafort and the Trump campaign to Russian government collusion?
Is he trying to catch Manafort in an unrelated criminal matter and thus pressure him to turn on the president?
Or is he merely on what Trump describes as a witch hunt, looking under every corner of the Washington universe for something – anything – with which to bring before a grand jury?
Mueller had an opportunity to win the trust of the American public when he outfitted his team, and he instead chose to fill it with Democrats and Clinton donors. So while we’d love to give the special counsel the benefit of the doubt, the hyper-partisan nature of this Russian investigation makes it impossible to do so. This has all the markings of a “show me the man, I’ll show you the crime” operation.
We hope we’re wrong.