As Paul Manafort is now confined under house arrest instead of in a prison cell because of COVID-19 –- he’s definitely at high risk for a “negative outcome” (death) –- we’re learning about something very shocking that was done in his case by prosecutors.
The Special Counsel’s Office told Judge Beryl Howell a “fake FISA warrant” story to give the impression that it was in the national interest to violate Manafort’s attorney-client privilege. The goal: to compel testimony from Manafort’s attorneys to incriminate their client --- and also, it was fervently hoped --- to help them reach the ultimate target, President Trump.
But as it turns out, that story was a lie; there never was a FISA warrant on Manafort. CNN was wrong (surprise, surprise!) when they too-conveniently reported in 2017 that the government had applied for a FISA warrant to spy on Manafort, just as they had Carter Page, and that they’d already been surveilling him because of national security concerns. Not only was this a fake story to the judge, but it was a fake story to the media as well, and CNN was only too happy to cooperate. It would sure be nice to know who leaked it.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz states in his report that not only did the FBI not seek a FISA warrant on Manafort in the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, but they never even “seriously considered” getting one. Horowitz has repeated this under oath as well.
According to “Undercover Huber” --- sounds conspiratorial but is actually a great source --- whoever leaked the story to CNN was trying to create a narrative that since Manafort had a FISA (remember, he didn’t), there was probable cause to believe he was an agent of a foreign power.
They even came up with a phony “on-again, off-again” timeline to their supposed surveillance, to show a gap around the time of the Trump Tower meeting n which the “real” collusion might have happened. Crafty.
Recall that they got quite showy about this hokum, conducting a dawn raid on Manafort's house and searching a storage unit. It was all just drama, as it was with Roger Stone.
Rod Rosenstein’s “scope” memo on Manafort, written on August 2, 2017, authorized the Special Counsel’s Office to investigate him for potential “collusion” with Russia and also for “payments he received from the Ukrainian government.” Both of these probes were based on lies, as the allegations of “collusion” came from the fake Steele “dossier” and the allegations of payments from Ukraine came from the fake “black book” of cash payments that didn’t happen.
Then --- and here’s where it gets amazingly bad --- on August 18, the Special Counsel’s Office issued a subpoena to MANAFORT’S ATTORNEY to to TESTIFY AGAINST HIS OWN CLIENT before the Grand Jury. Manfort’s attorney refused, of course, and so the Special Counsel did what lawyers in any kangaroo court would do and filed a motion to compel testimony. They really, really wanted that attorney’s testimony, as they needed to get Manafort on FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) violations and considered his testimony essential.
As Huber wrote: “On October 2, 2017, Judge Howell ruled against Manafort (in a non-public sealed opinion), ultimately piercing Attorney/Client privilege and forcing his lawyer to testify against him about the preparation of those FARA filings. Big win for the SCO [Special Counsel’s Office].”
There was never any national security issue related to the charges under which Manafort was prosecuted: some white-collar stuff and false FARA filings. Huber has explained that the real reason for the fake FISA story on Manafort was to set a “tone” that would help implicate President Trump. He also shows how these ruthless tactics even helped influence Michael Flynn’s attorneys to advise him to plead guilty, as THEY saw what was happening and certainly wouldn’t want to be dragged before the Grand Jury as Manafort’s attorneys were. The way to make that threat go away was to get Flynn to take the plea.
Huber comments that such an aggressive approach might have been justified had there been any real threat to national security, but, again, that claim was just a cover. All made up.
The people who did this are bad, folks. The Manafort story clearly shows what can happen when overzealous prosecutors don’t have any actual evidence. Sometimes they’ll just make it up, lie through their teeth. They have “six ways from Sunday” for getting at you. Add political motivation to the mix, as was clearly the case here, and it's banana republic time. Media outlets such as CNN are happy to aid and abet. And in this case, our own law enforcement bureaucracy was willing to trash the justice system, even attorney-client privilege, if it helped them in their strategy to take down President Trump.