According to a report from CNN, investigators with the U.S. government were spying on Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort both before and after the election.
The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court authorized the wiretapping, issuing a warrant to the FBI in 2015, pursuant to an investigation they'd begun the year before. According to CNN's sources, the investigation focused on Manafort's relationship with Russia through Ukranian clients of his consulting and public relations business.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking over records collected while FBI agents monitored Manafort's calls, putting Manafort squarely in the middle of an ongoing independent probe into Russian meddling in last year's U.S. elections. Although the CNN report does say the FBI found nothing "conclusive," a separate report, this one in The Hill, says Mueller has warned Manafort to expect an indictment.
CNN reports that the FBI wiretapped Manafort through much of 2016, including his short time spent as Donald Trump's campaign manager. After listening in on his phone calls, FBI investigators were reportedly concerned Manafort "had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign," but by late 2016, the FBI had discontinued the probe, having found no evidence of collusion.
By early 2017, the FBI had applied for — and received — a second FISA warrant, again to monitor Manafort's communications, while he was advising the President in his new role on President Trump's transition team. CNN Says it's not clear precisely when the monitoring started, but that something rekindled the FBI's interest in Manafort in late 2016, likely "communications between Manafort and Russian operatives."
FBI agents raided a storage facility belonging to Manafort in early 2016. Just a few weeks ago, they also conducted a search of Manafort's home in late August.
Despite all this, it's not clear, from CNN's report or previous Manafort news, exactly how Donald Trump is connected to Manafort's operation — and whether Donald Trump, his senior advisors and campaign officials, were aware that Manafort was communicating with Ukranians and Russians before and after the election.
CNN also reports that Justice Department officials may have been interested in Manafort for years before he became Trump's campaign manager. In 2014, the DOJ discovered Manafort — and Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Jon Podesta — were involved in a project, assisting Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's totalitarian, pro-Russian leader, who was helping Vladimir Putin establish a foothold in Ukraine.
The President himself has claimed that he was "wiretapped" while living in Trump Tower, and an unconfirmed report late last year claimed FISA had approved several wiretapping warrants for Trump-owned properties, including a building in Pennsylvania that housed campaign and Trump Organization servers. The Department of Justice says Trump's own wires weren't tapped.