The Inspector General’s report released on Monday blew a hole in Donald Trump’s frequent assertions that the federal government was spying on his campaign in a partisan attempt to sway the election.
Notably, the report made it clear that Trump’s campaign advisor, Paul Manafort, was under investigation by the FBI for money laundering before he ever joined the campaign. The revelation about Manafort is noted on page 391 of the 476-page report.
The Inspector General writes that “the FBI opened the Manafort money laundering investigation in January of 2016, before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane and before Manafort joined the Trump campaign.” Crossfire Hurricane is the name of the federal investigation into Russian officials and Trump aides.
Here’s the text from the report:
the IG report says that the FBI opened the Manafort money laundering operation in January of 2016 — making a point to note that this was before Manafort joined the Trump campaign #IGReport pic.twitter.com/2Nz9bhf7kQ— Alex Thomas (@AlexThomasDC) December 9, 2019
In August of 2018, Manafort was convicted on eight counts that included tax and bank fraud. His conviction was a huge moment in the Russia investigation because Manafort’s trial was the first time that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team prosecuted a case in court.
The Inspector General’s report also notes that the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery section of the DOJ was investigating Manafort but that they handed that investigation over to Mueller’s team when the special counsel was appointed in May of 2017.
the IG report says that the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery section of the DOJ was investigating Manafort until they handed that investigation over to the Special Counsel in May of 2017 #IGReport pic.twitter.com/UntBDpFeyR— Alex Thomas (@AlexThomasDC) December 9, 2019
Donald Trump has repeatedly defended Manafort on Twitter — in August of 2018, he questioned whether Manafort was treated worse than Al Capone. He has also complained that the FBI didn’t tell him that they were investigating Manafort and said that he would not have hired Manafort if he knew that he was under investigation.
Manafort has a long history as an operator in Republican politics. He worked for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Raegan before joining Trump’s campaign. Manafort was one of a trio of campaign managers that Trump cycled through before his election — Corey Lewandowski and Kellyanne Conway also held the title.