A new report in The New York Times revealed that special counsel Bob Mueller’s team is using methods typically seen in organized crime investigations to put the heat on President Donald Trump’s associates.
On Monday, The Times reported that the FBI agents staged a “no-knock” early-morning raid when searching former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home earlier this year. The report notes this type of search required significant evidence for a judge to approve. Prosecutors would have had to show that they suspect the target, in this case, Manafort, was likely to destroy evidence.
According to the report, prosecutors also flat out told Manafort they “plan to indict” him
Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, who contributed to the report, explained in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that these types of raids and tactics are “more consistent with how you’d go after an organized crime syndicate” than a typical white-collar probe.
Apuzzo explained that neither Ken Starr, who investigated Bill Clinton’s administration, nor Patrick Fitzgerald, who investigated the Bush Administration’s leaking of a CIA agent’s identity, used search warrants.
Apuzzo called the situation “unusual,” noting that in a “normal situation” there would be some “back and forth dialogue” with the suspect’s lawyer before a search warrant is executed.
He went on to explain that using a “no-knock search warrant where you come in predawn hours and pick the lock and you’re in the house” clearly “speaks to certainly a level of distrust between Bob Mueller and Paul Manafort, and you can gather that that sends a ripple throughout this investigation and certainly sends a message that this is not going to be your typical slow and steady white collar investigation.”
Maddow asked if the warning of an indictment was more of a “threat or a promise.”
“It’s that rat-a-tat-tat,” Apuzzo said. “We storm your house and take a bunch of your stuff and tell you to plan on being indicted, and come over the top and subpoena his lawyer and spokesman. It was a real one, two, three, boom, boom, boom from Bob Mueller and company.”
“Maybe he won’t be indicted but certainly sends a message: ‘We’re here to do business and the fact that you have a lawyer is not, literally, a barrier to entry for us,” he added.
Watch the interview below:
The Times report itself describes Mueller’s methods as “shock-and-awe tactics” intended to “intimidate witnesses and potential targets.”
While prosecutors may have Manafort, who clearly dealt with incredibly shady people that were backed by the Kremlin, dead to rights, this suggests Mueller may use any possible charges against Manafort as leverage to gain his testimony against Trump himself or others around him.
Manafort had by far the most dealings long before working with Trump and a new CNN report revealed his phone was wiretapped by federal investigators on multiple occasions, including after the election.
“Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign,” the report says, citing several sources.
And just in case Trump thinks he can pardon Manafort before he can turn against him, Mueller is reportedly working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who could indict Manafort on state charges, which would mean Trump has no authority to pardon him.