United States investigators wiretapped Paul Manafort, report says

Donald Trump and Paul Manafort at the Republican National

Their latest alternative fact, peddled by Breitbart: Trump has been "vindicated" by new CNN reporting that his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was wiretapped under a secret court order.

It noted that in 2014, Manafort was surveilled under a separate FISA authorization as the Federal Bureau of Investigation scrutinized his lobbying work on behalf of the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine and his business dealings with Russian entities.

The second warrant was part of an attempt to investigate ties between Trump associates and suspected Russian operatives, CNN reported, citing sources. Eventually, we would learn that Manafort was paid at least $17 million to work with the party of Kremlin-backed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The conversations between Manafort and Trump continued after the President took office, long after the FBI investigation into Manafort was publicly knwn, the sources told CNN.

Manafort has been under scrutiny since 2014, CNN reported, because of his foreign lobbying work.

In March, Trump claimed that President Obama had ordered the tapping of his phone lines at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Now, based on recent revelations offering an insight into the direction in which the probe is headed, experts claim that Mueller's probe has reached a critical stage - to the extent that they believe the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director might soon make allegations in public.

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While more than a dozen Trump associates are considered to be central players in the Russian Federation investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller has been pursuing Paul Manafort with scorched-earth tactics that seem calculated to inspire fear-or force his cooperation.

So far from the surveillance, though not conclusive, there had been indications that Manafort may have pushed for Russian officials to help try to get then-candidate Donald Trump elected.

President Trump has previously accused the administration of Barack Obama of having his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower.

Agents had picked the lock to his Virginia home as Mr Manafort lay in bed, and were looking for evidence that he had set up off-shore bank accounts, the newspaper reported. Robert Mueller's team executed an unannounced search of his property and confiscated files earlier this year. However, wiretapping had taken place during periods when Manafort was known to be in touch with President Donald Trump.

Manafort has denied ever "knowingly" communicating with Russian intelligence operatives during the election, and denied participating in Russia's efforts to "undermine the interests of the United States".

A spokesperson for Mueller did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment.

As the Mueller investigation moves along, it will be interesting to see just what other information leaks out to the press regarding these likely recorded conversations.

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