Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for President Trump, on Tuesday called for the Justice Department to immediately conduct an investigation into wiretapping by the Obama administration of the Trump campaign.
“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 through spokesman Jason Maloni.
The statement comes a day after CNN reported that the FBI last year secretly obtained two surveillance warrants against him “before and after” the election, including during a period when he was known to speak with Trump.
The bombshell report vindicated Trump’s assertion — and Breitbart’s reporting — earlier this year that he had been surveilled during the campaign at Trump Tower.
Manafort also called on the Justice Department to release any intercepts involving him to prove that “there is nothing there.”
“Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there,” the statement said.
The statement also noted it is a felony to reveal the existence of the kind of warrant the FBI reportedly obtained on Manafort, from a secret court that handles surveillance of foreign targets under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and called for an immediate investigation into the leak.
“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges every emerged,” it said.
CNN’s report said the first FISA warrant obtained against Manafort in 2014 was discontinued because nothing was found. Sometime after he joined the Trump administration in May 2016, the FBI sought and was granted another warrant, which would have been approved by senior Justice and FBI officials, the report said.
CNN’s report noted that Manafort has a residence at Trump Tower, although it said it was “unclear” whether the wiretapping occurred there. It also did not say how soon after Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairman that the FBI was able to obtain the second warrant.
Multiple Obama administration officials have denied surveilling Trump campaign and transition officials — either through unmasking or wiretapping.
Then-FBI Director James Comey in March disputed Trump’s assertions that Trump Tower was wiretapped, and urged the Justice Department to dispute it also.
Earlier this month, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice — after denying knowing about it — also admitted that she did unmask the names of three Trump transition team officials who met with the Emirati crown prince.