2. Mueller's muscle
"U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, ... an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe," per CNN's Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown:"The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.""As part of the FISA warrant, ... earlier this year, the FBI conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Manafort."The reporters said on CNN that Trump may have been picked up on the Manafort recordings, and said it's unknown if the warrant remains in effect.
"Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller's team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry," the N.Y. Times' Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman report in the paper's lead story:
- "Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home.
- "They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts.
- "They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet."
- "Mueller has obtained a flurry of subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify before a grand jury, lawyers and witnesses say, sometimes before his prosecutors have taken the customary first step of interviewing them."
- Why it matters: "Few people can upend Washington like a federal prosecutor rooting around a presidential administration."
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Solomon Wisenberg, a veteran of the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Clinton, referring to aggressive tactics by Mueller and his prosecutors, "They are setting a tone. It's important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled."
- Be smart: These leaks show that Mueller has much more information about Trumpworld than had been known, with exponentially more risk to the president and his associates. Like with the Nixon tapes, there are recordings that the president's men fear. And Mueller's team clearly wants others in their sights to know it.