Paul Manafort’s lawyers have filed a motion questioning if “grand jury secrecy” was violated when Justice Department prosecutors met with Associated Press reporters.
The legal team for the former Trump campaign manager presented memos to target a 2017 meeting where four AP reporters told top law enforcement figures that “they had located a storage facility in Virginia that belonged to Manafort” – and offered “the code to the lock on the locker,” according to Fox News.
Manafort’s lawyers have argued that the off-the-record meeting in April 2017 led to illegally leaked information later used to obtain a warrant, submitting two memos written by FBI agents who were at the meeting to back the claim.
That meeting, arranged by Andrew Weissmann – the DOJ attorney known as Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” – included three FBI agents; a Justice Department trial attorney; an assistant U.S. attorney and Andrew Weissmann, who later moved on to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The AP reporters were Chad Day, Jack Gillum, Ted Bridis and Eric Tucker, according to Fox News.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 9, 2018
“The meeting raises serious concerns about whether a violation of grand jury secrecy occurred,” the lawyers wrote in a filing Friday with U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis. “Now, based on the FBI’s own notes of the meeting, it is beyond question that a hearing is warranted.”
FBI agent Karen Greenaway wrote in one of the memos that at the end of the meeting, “the AP reporters asked if we would be willing to tell them if they were [off base] or on the wrong [track] and they were advised that they appeared to have a good understanding of Manafort’s business dealings.”
Greenaway’s seven-page memo noted that the meeting was “arranged” by Weissmann who, at the time was chief of the DOJ’s fraud division. The day after the meeting, the AP reported an exclusive story titled, “Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout.” Two of the reporters at the meeting were credited in the byline.
If this is true, it is a violation of federal law in addition to attempting to influence the jury pool. They threw Manafort in solitary confinement, claiming witness tampering. So, what happens to them? They are not supposed to break the law to enforce it. https://t.co/E7bMuXynyS
— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) July 9, 2018
The memos also revealed that one of the AP reporters gave the FBI information about Manafort’s storage unit in Alexandria, Virginia with agent Jeffery Pfeiffer stating that reporters even offered the “gate code” to access unit.
Pfeiffer testified last week that the tip from the reporter may have led to identification of the locker that was later searched.
“I’m surprised by the access code notation, that does seem rather unorthodox if the FBI memo is accurate in stating or implying that the AP reporters volunteered that information,” University of Maryland journalism professor Mark Feldstein told Politico.
Though not responding to requests for comment on the FBI reports, an AP spokeswoman last month said the reporters were doing their job.
“Associated Press journalists met with representatives from the Department of Justice in an effort to get information on stories they were reporting, as reporters do,” Lauren Easton said. “During the course of the meeting, they asked DOJ representatives about a storage locker belonging to Paul Manafort, without sharing its name or location.”
Manafort is being kept in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail awaiting two upcoming trails on bank and tax fraud charges brought against him by Mueller.
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