by WorldTribune Staff, July 10, 2018
Andrew Weissmann, who is prosecuting special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, provided information to the media which resulted in news stories which Manafort’s lawyer says “malign Manafort in the eyes of potential jurors.”
In an April 2017 meeting with four Associated Press reporters and the FBI, Weissmann gave the green light for the reporting of the information he provided, Rowan Scarborough noted in a July 10 report for The Washington Times.
Weissmann at the time was heading up the Department of Justice’s fraud division. He joined Mueller’s team in May 2017.
The indictments against Manafort, which started in October, “are nearly a carbon copy of what AP reporters told Weissmann and the FBI they had found on Manafort: Money laundering payments made by Ukrainian politicians; tax evasion on those funds and failure to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA),” Scarborough wrote.
Kevin Downing, Manafort’s attorney, made the AP-FBI alliance public to force Mueller to disclose evidence, the report said.
“Downing accuses the government of leaking grand jury proceedings and false information about his client, feeding news stories that malign Manafort in the eyes of potential jurors,” Scarborough wrote.
Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia is scheduled to begin July 25.
FBI agent Karen A. Greenaway wrote a memo on May 11 summarizing the April meeting between Weissmann, the FBI and the reporters: “At the conclusion 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.”
Scarborough noted that “To Manafort’s supporters, that assurance was an FBI blessing to publish the story and confirmation that Manafort was under federal investigation.”
Weissmann, often referred to as the “pit bull” on Mueller’s team, also gave the reporters advice on how to obtain information on Manafort from Cyprus’ anti-money laundering authority, Scarborough’s report said.
“During the meeting the AP reporters served as informants, filling in the FBI and Weissmann on their investigation. One nugget was the existence of a storage locker – and its secret gate code – in Virginia where the political consultant kept large amounts of financial documents. The reporters said the rental payments were made by Manafort’s DM Partners which received money from the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine.
Based on AP’s tip, the FBI executed a search warrant on the locker.”
A second agent who attended the April meeting, Jeffrey Pfeiffer, filed his report on May 5.
“AP reporters were advised everything discussed during the meeting is considered ‘off the record,’ ” Pfeiffer wrote.
“AP believes Manafort is in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), in that Manafort send [sic] internal U.S. documents to officials in Ukraine. AP determined Manafort has received between $60 million to $80 million through shell companies on which he has likely not paid taxes. AP has information Manafort used some of the money from shell companies to buy expensive suits.”
Weissmann’s indictment mentions Manafort’s taste for expensive suits.
The April 2017 meeting “raises serious concerns about whether a violation of grand jury secrecy occurred,” Downing said.
On June 15, a federal judge ordered Manafort to prison for alleged witness tampering while he was out on bail. He is currently at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, where he has since been in solitary confinement for 23 hours every day. According to his attorneys, the jail determined that if Manafort was to be detained, solitary confinement was the only way to “ensure his security.”