October 28, 2019

Poor old Paul Manafort. He’s the forgotten man, quietly serving out his sentence, collateral damage in the ongoing effort to take down Trump.

Now that more records from the FBI have been uncovered --- after being protected by a slow-walking bureaucracy for months and even years --- we’ve got a new term to describe what the intel community specializes in: “strategic leaking.” What good is an attempt to influence an election or unseat a President without help from the media? And we’re learning that the relationship was and is a two-way street.

Recall that early in Trump’s presidency, the administration was leaking like crazy. We’d never seen anything like it. How was this happening? Judicial Watch, now getting big-time payoff after suing under the Freedom of Information Act over many thousands of documents that were being withheld, just keeps digging up more and more that explains it in hindsight.

For example, last week, the FBI released documents relating to a meeting on April 11, 2017, that was set up by then-Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section Andrew Weissmann (this was a few weeks before he started his work leading Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and prosecuting Paul Manafort) between the DOJ, FBI and the Associated Press. Apparently, the AP had a two-way relationship with top intel people: you give us information, and we’ll give YOU information. We know this because the AP provided information to Weissmann and his group about former Trump campaign director Manafort –- including the numeric code to Manafort’s storage locker.

In reports on this story, I haven’t seen an answer to the question that immediately comes to mind: How did the Associated Press HAVE the code to the lock on Manafort’s storage locker in Virginia?

They did reveal how they tied the locker to Manafort’s Ukraine work: “payments for the locker were made from the DM Partners account that received money from the [Ukraine] Party of Regions.” 

According to handwritten notes finally provided to Judicial Watch, the purpose of the meeting was to obtain documents from the AP “related to their investigative reports on Paul Manafort.” Yet no such documents were included in the pages given to JW.

Obviously, the AP was interested in more than reporting the news. They wanted to SHAPE the news, and were pushing for criminal prosecution of Manafort. According to the FBI notes, “AP believes Manafort is in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), in that Manafort sent internal U.S. documents to officials Ukraine. AP has documentation proving this, as well as Manafort noting his understanding doing so would get him into trouble.”

They go on: “AP asked about the U.S. government charging Manafort with violating Title 18, section 1001 for lying to government officials, and have asked if the FBI has interviewed Manafort. FBI and DOJ had no comment on this question.”

Generally, FARA is loosely enforced; many who could have been prosecuted for failing to register have not been. Still, according to FBI notes of the meeting, “The AP reporters asked about FARA violations and they were generally told it was enforceable.” Hey, great news for the AP. They published their big expose on Manafort the very next day.

According to the notes, FBI officials said they couldn’t provide anything to the AP, so the reporters opted to ask them a series of questions. The FBI told them the meeting would be “off the record.” There were some things the FBI couldn’t talk about, but they guided the AP to foreign sources. (Details in the press release; link below.) They also advised the AP that “they appeared to have a good understanding of Manafort’s business dealings.”

AP reporters told the FBI about payments in Manafort’s “black ledger.” The FBI’s notes read, “The reporters advised that their next report, which was scheduled to come out in the next day or so after the meeting, would focus on confirming, to the extent that they could, payments in the so-called ‘black ledger’ that were allegedly made to Manafort.”

As Judicial Watch reports, “The AP reporters discussed an extensive list of issues, companies and individuals that they felt should be investigated for possible criminal activity, including a $50,000 payment to a men’s clothing store, a 2007 meeting with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and some companies they felt Manafort might have incorporated to cover up money laundering.

My, my. It sounds as though the Associated Press was “colluding” with our FBI and DOJ to “get” Manafort. The underlying message would have been, “We really hope you go after this guy.”

Chuck Ross of the DAILY CALLER reported on the meeting back in January and July of 2018; Manafort’s lawyers had obtained the documents and revealed them in a brief filed in the Virginia federal court where Manafort was on trial. Sara Carter also reported on this.  The story didn’t get the attention it deserved at the time, but now we can look back at what the AP was doing and think, “What the huh??” A lawyer for Manafort, Kevin Downing, had written to the court, “This meeting raises serious concerns about whether a violation of grand jury secrecy occurred. Based on the FBI’s own notes of the meeting, it is beyond question that a hearing is warranted.” Indeed, we learn from this story that the meeting took place while there was an ongoing grand jury investigation of Manafort going on. According to Ross, “Manafort’s attorneys have for months questioned whether Weissmann, the number two official on the Mueller team, leaked information about Manafort to the AP.” We see now that this was a two-way street.

The AP’s director for media relations, Lauren Eastman, defended the journalists’ meeting with government officials.  When it first came to light in January 2018, she said this: “Associated Press journalists meet with a range of people in the course of reporting stories, and we refrain from discussing our relationships with sources. However, the suggestion that AP would voluntarily serve as the source of information for a government agency is categorically untrue.” But now we know from the FBI's own notes that this is just what they did.

Here’s the Judicial Watch press release, which confirms what was reported last year.

Press Releases Archives - Judicial Watch

With the continued investigations into Ukraine’s corruption and involvement in our 2016 election, we may end up with a better picture of how the prosecution of Manafort fits in. If he broke laws other people go to prison for, then justice needs to be evenly applied. On the other hand, if he was targeted, selectively prosecuted, sent to Rikers Island and then to prison because he dared to be Trump’s campaign director, that’s the kind of “banana republic” stuff that Andrew Weissmann apparently specializes in, with help from the media. As Tom Fitton of JW tweeted last week: “These shocking FBI reports evidence a corrupt collusion between DOJ and media, specifically the Associated Press, to target Paul Manafort – are further reason for President @ReallDonaldTrump to pardon Manafort and others caught up in Mueller’s abusive web.”

Manafort is scheduled to be released from prison on Christmas 2024.


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Comments 1-25 of 32

  • Patsy Prothro

    11/03/2019 09:36 AM

    This makes me angry! These people are worse than Manaford ever thought about being! Great article! Thanks for sharing this information!

  • Judith Girkin

    10/31/2019 04:33 AM

    They only went after him to get to our President. He should be pardoned. The real crooks are running free while he is caged up.

  • David Colonna

    10/29/2019 11:03 AM

    What the HECK IS GOING ON HERE, HOW CAN ANYONE IN THE PRESS OWN OUR GOVERNMENT OR BASICALLY ARE RUNNING OUR COUNTRY!! This to me should result in an all out civil war against the AP! We need to stop this crap now. I sincerely hope President Trump pardons Paul Manafort once he wins 2020 election.

  • Rita Papaleo

    10/29/2019 10:40 AM

    The information here is truly sad.

    Status in DOJ: "professional clothing"
    "Mouthpiece to the public"

    All these "attributes" do not equate truthfulness, justice or integrity. Its a shame and a SHAM what can be conjoured up against an individual or a whole country.

  • Joan Ginnetti

    10/29/2019 07:44 AM

    How convenient the Democrats have the press do their investigations into friendly government sources and then spin press reports favorably for them.

  • Jessie Teddlie

    10/29/2019 06:17 AM

    Thank you and Judicial Watch for keeping this straight and defending the President! It is so sad what these less than credible investigations have done to so many and their families! I pray that those who have committed such attacks to “just stop Trump” and hide their own crimes will someday be brought to justice for all to see! I know there will be judgement for them all someday and an extra blessing for the President who had nothing to gain and much to lose. Thank you for all you and your family do for real America. God bless you all.

  • Patricia Raduziner

    10/28/2019 09:25 PM

    You mean Manafort will not be released until Xmas,2024? Why is he still even in prison with all that’s been revealed? Why aren’t the powers that be getting involved in this? Where is the fairness and Lady Justice? I am appalled by the treatment he’s getting.

  • Doug Morgan

    10/28/2019 08:58 PM

    The swamp keeps swelling and produces more corruption on even a wider scale every day. Now the media is actually conspiring with the FBI to go after someone. Still nothing happens to the swamp dwellers, especially the democ-rats in the swamp. "Investigation" by bureaucrats and politicians is a synonym for "committee" in the corporate world. Definition: A bunch of people that can't get anything done all meet and agree that nothing can be done. And the soap opera goes on and on at tax payers expense. Sad!

  • gary Stilwell

    10/28/2019 07:55 PM

    Good sleuthing here. My complaint is Trump vowed to drain the swamp--this is a swamp. Why is he not verbalizing these revelations?????--appears the swamp creatures are incapable of defending the actions they have taken--if(and when) it all comes down, we will have ALL new Representatives/ Senators/DOJ officials/fbi officials/cia officials/secret service officials/---cnn will be completely purged, ap will be purged, msnbc will be partially purged, fox will be partially purged, as well as npr, walmart/facebook/google/twitter, etc. etc.--on and on

  • Janis Tobin

    10/28/2019 07:20 PM

    President Trump's campaign staff should be exonerated with all charges dropped. This includes Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, Stone, and other innocent persons who were duped by the Deep State and Mueller's bulldogs. All of those who are criminally indicted and convicted of crimes against the Office of the Presidency should pay back the $40 million of taxpayers' money that was wasted in the bogus Trump Russia collusion special investigation and the coup to overthrow Donald Trump's Presidential election.

  • Joe Broadway

    10/28/2019 06:53 PM

    Ive about lost all respect for the FBI. Many knew what this Weissmann was and none did nothing to stop him.

    Trump better visit the Patriot Act then kill it because the FBI is trash.

  • Kitty Jardin

    10/28/2019 04:29 PM

    Thanks to the Democrat-Communist Party and RINO Repubs, our govenment is not one whit better than a 3rd world country! Not only should Mr. Manafort be pardoned, he should have all his legal fees and assets restored to him. The laws need to be changed to allow crooked attorneys like Mr. Weissmann be held accountable for their evil deeds. How can any true American vote for these Communist Leftist?

  • Rick Augustine

    10/28/2019 04:20 PM

    Thanks. I lost track of this story. Your insight is great!

  • Carol Kloberdanz

    10/28/2019 03:29 PM

    Release Manafort. Exonerate him. Arrest all of those who are involved in this ongoing attempted coup of our President and takeover of our government and country.

  • Carl Smith

    10/28/2019 02:42 PM

    What's wrong with the media? They have special rights under the 1st A. that by pursuing thier present course will be voided? Have We as a nation gone so far down the Rabbit Hole that recovery is no longer possible? Between Soros and the media I feel we are seeing MONEY do more damage than good.

  • Rad

    10/28/2019 02:31 PM

    He was targeted, sighted in & fired upon.

  • Wallace Hoffman

    10/28/2019 02:15 PM

    This is part of the of the sophisticated attempt to overthrow President Trump and his administration. President Obama placed his adherents in high positions of the bureaucracy in order to maintain their power.

  • Amelia Little

    10/28/2019 02:02 PM

    I think that, when the doo-doo hits the fan, those involved should be treated just like Paul Manafort has been. Solitary confinement up to and during the trial and sentencing. Imprisonment in a hard core prison--no namby pamby white collar day camp like so many white collar criminals are placed. And, solitary confinement after sentencing while they are at it. Don't forget to do the 3am raids on homes, offices, etc by heavily armed federal agents and tanks and helicopters. I'm pretty sure it would be expecting too much to think cnn would have news crews on hand (at 3am during a "surprise" raid.)

  • Cynthia Treglown

    10/28/2019 01:04 PM

    I am glad all od this has come to light thanks for the liberals they had seal their doom.

  • Mary Christian

    10/28/2019 12:58 PM

    I say release those caught up in Mueller’s web and jail these crooked Dems.
    Everything they accuse the Republicans of doing is exactly what they are doing and have done. I don’t know how they can live with themselves!

  • Robert McFate

    10/28/2019 12:32 PM

    Just more proof of a conspiracy! We are in deep dodo when members of the press team up with members of the government to get someone!

  • Bennye St.Claire

    10/28/2019 12:28 PM

    I am not getting all of the newsletters. And, I have already checked and they are not going to my SPAM folder. Please check and see if you can correct this.

  • Marcia Beale

    10/28/2019 12:14 PM

    Looks as though Manafort should be pardoned.

  • Debra Sedars

    10/28/2019 11:57 AM

    This was a travesty. I pray for Mr. Manafort and his family every day.

  • dolores varricchio

    10/28/2019 11:46 AM

    it seems to me that that if this is proven then Manafort should get a pardon. Plus Weissman should be disbarred from ever practicing as a lawyer again and the Associated Press should be fined. In order to stop this from happening over and over there should be consequences.

    However, I never see any consequences, take Kavanah's case, it is pretty obvious that people lied and our own congressman/woman withheld information. There should have been fines and prison terms for everyone and congressman should be requested to step down. Enough is enough we have been playing around with this long enough--- no consequences and it will keep happening.

    The Democrates seem to have a get out of jail card they never get reprimanded for what they do.

    I am really disgusted.