Paul Manafort says he wants probe of leaks in rare statement

WASHINGTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, lashed out on Tuesday at reports he was wiretapped by federal authorities, and his spokesman sent out a statement demanding a leaks probe and suggesting the surveillance was politically motivated.

The statement issued by spokesman Jason Maloni on behalf of Manafort came a day after CNN reported that a secret court had authorized surveillance of Manafort under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), under which Americans can be targeted if they are suspected of acting as an agent of a foreign country.

Manafort became Trump's campaign manager in June 2016 but was forced to resign two months later amid reports of his business relationship with the Kremlin-backed former Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovich.

RELATED: Paul Manafort through the years

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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort speaks at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, smiles as he talks with other Trump campaign staff after Trump spoke to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's senior campaign adviser Paul Manafort (L) walks into a reception with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A man with a security credential takes a selfie at the podium as Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Paul Manafort., Convention Manager, Trump Campaign, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday April 10, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NA.R.DoleMicCk1.081596.RG.Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from podium at balloons and television cameras as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for tonight's acceptance speech in San Diego, 08/15/96. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Manafort is being investigated as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The court initially authorized FISA surveillance of Manafort in 2014 but that lapsed in 2016 for lack of evidence, CNN reported. FISA surveillance resumed later in 2016 and continued into 2017 as part of the FBI's probe into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives, CNN said.

"If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged," Maloni said in the statement on behalf of Manafort.

"The U.S. Department of Justice's Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration's effort to surveil a political opponent," he said.

The special counsel's office and the FBI both declined to comment on Maloni's statement. They also did not comment on CNN's original report about surveillance of Manafort.

SEE ALSO: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein interviewed over FBI ex-director's firing: WSJ

Maloni urged the Justice Department to release any intercepts between Manafort and any non-Americans so people "can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ (Justice Department) - there is nothing there."

As part of the special counsel's probe, federal agents with search warrants raided Manafort's Virginia home in July. The New York Times, citing two people close to the case, reported on Monday that prosecutors later told Manafort they planned to indict him.

CNN said interest in Manafort deepened because of intercepted communications between him and Russian operatives, and among the Russians. The government eavesdropping continued into 2017, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to Trump after he became president. CNN said it was unclear if Trump was picked up on the surveillance. (Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Leslie Adler)

RELATED: Members past and present of Trump's inner circle

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Hope Hicks: White House Director of Strategic Communications
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. President Donald Trump's encounter this week at the Group of 20 summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin is raising concerns among veteran American diplomats and analysts about a mismatch between a U.S. president new to global affairs and a wily former Soviet spymaster. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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