Trump asks why FBI didn't tell him about Paul Manafort investigation

President Trump complained Sunday morning that the Federal Bureau of Investigation never warned him about its investigation into Paul Manafort before he joined Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team.

In a handful of tweets, Trump asked why the FBI did not tell Democrat Hillary Clinton and him about a secret investigation into Manafort after they had won their respective party’s nominations. He scoffed at the Department of Justice’s commitment to fairness by placing “justice” in quotes.

Manafort, a veteran conservative political consultant, joined Trump’s campaign as convention manager in March 2016 and was responsible for transitioning the campaign’s activities toward the Republican National Committee in Cleveland. He was promoted to campaign manager on May 19 and resigned that August amid scrutiny into his pro-Russian work in Ukraine.

President Trump and Paul Manafort
President Trump and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

On Sunday, Trump continued to distance himself from Manafort by pointing out that he came to his team late in the process, only stayed for a few months and had contributed to several other Republican presidential bids in the past. These included campaigns for Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

Trump insisted he should have been informed that former FBI director James Comey and the bureau’s investigators — whom the president called “Comey and the boys” — were “doing a number” on Manafort. With this knowledge, he continued, Manafort would have never been hired.

This is a continuation of Trump’s efforts to rationalize his ties to Manafort that kicked into high gear after Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the U.S. presidential election, indicted him and his former business partner Rick Gates in October 2017. Despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, CNN reported that U.S. intelligence officials warned Trump in August 2016 that Russia would likely try to infiltrate his campaign and interfere with the election.

Manafort faces charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money and making false statements to the Justice Department about his political work in Ukraine. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has rejected several of Manafort’s attempts to get certain charges dismissed. He had unsuccessfully filed motions challenging Mueller’s authority, insisting some charges amounted to double jeopardy (being charged twice for the same offense) and arguing that piling up charges could prejudice jurors against him.

Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty, is expected to stand trial in July.

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