5 Things to Know About the Obama FISA Wiretap on Paul Manafort ... in Trump Tower?
On Tuesday, a CNN report seemed to confirm President Donald Trump's suspicions that the Obama administration issued surveillance on top members of Trump's campaign staff. CNN reported that Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was indeed spied upon during President Obama's tenure.
While the story does seem to confirm Trump's allegations, the truth proved rather complicated. Here are five things to know about the developing story.
1. Manafort was wiretapped, and maybe Trump was, too.
On Tuesday, CNN reporters Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Pamela Brown reported that the federal government did indeed snoop on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
"US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe," the writers reported.
To make matters worse, the spying continued into early this year, when Manafort was known to be speaking with President Trump.
CNN's sources suggested that some of the evidence "sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign," but that the evidence of Russian collusion remained inconclusive.
Earlier reports suggesting that a court working under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) ordered wiretapping of Trump campaign officials seemed fully vindicated by the CNN bombshell, which reported that a FISA court authorized an order to spy on Manafort.
But at this point, the news becomes less rosy for Trump supporters. The original FISA order began when Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. More on this later.
The surveillance was paused last year for lack of evidence, but then resumed after a new FISA warrant was obtained. This second warrant covered an unspecified time leading into early this year.
FBI interest reportedly deepened last fall because of intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives. The FBI conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Manafort.
While Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August of last year, after only five months on the campaign, he continued to speak with Trump after the Republican took office. They kept speaking to one another after the FBI investigation into Manafort was public knowledge, and only stopped when lawyers insisted they do so.
Manafort has denied that he ever "knowingly" communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election and has also denied participating in any Russian efforts to "undermine the interests of the United States."