There are a couple reasons the special counsel’s expanding Russia investigation might be so interested in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that they showed up at his door before dawn, unannounced, searched his home and seized documents, as The Washington Post reports.
In many ways, Manafort is squarely in the crosshairs of the Russia-Trump collusion investigation: His brief tenure as the head of Trump’s campaign happened as concerns about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election were heating up, he’s got high-level connections to Russia in his own right, and he’s got a whole host of scrutinized financial dealings that could make him a useful tool for investigators seeking cooperation.
Let me elaborate why the special counsel investigation could be so interested in him.
1. He was Trump’s campaign chairman for several months in 2016. If Robert Mueller‘s team is investigating Trump-Russia connections, they’re not going to stop at some low-level Trump associate. These investigators are going straight to the top to see if they find evidence of collusion, and for several key months in 2016, Manafort was the top.
2. He was in *that* meeting. When Donald Trump Jr. was told the Russian government was trying to help his father win, and oh by the way, do you want to meet with a Russian lawyer who has dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump Jr. didn’t go alone. He brought along Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.
It appears Manafort took detailed notes of that meeting, and those notes could be key evidence if there are any collusion-related charges.
That meeting’s circumstances are “as close as you can get to a smoking gun” on whether the…
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