Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of lawyers reportedly asked witnesses to hand over their phones for inspection of possible encrypted communications between individuals with ties to President Donald Trump.
“Since as early as April, Mueller’s team has been asking witnesses in the Russia probe to turn over phones for agents to examine private conversations on WhatsApp, Confide, Signal and Dust, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Fearing a subpoena, the witnesses have complied with the request and have given over their phones, the sources said,” CNBC reports.
Andrew Weissman, the Special Counsel’s top prosecutor, filed an 18-page motion Friday evening at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accusing former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and an associated of attempting to tamper with witnesses scheduled to testify in the probe.
Weissman requested Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Monday to arrange a hearing to review evidence of Manafort violating the terms of his bail “in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence,” related to work undertaken by a public relations firm tied to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovyc.
The FBI alleges a staffer at the public relations firm “Hapsburg Group,” received multiple messages from Manafort, telling “the government that [he] understood Manafort’s messages to be an effort to ‘suborn perjury’ by influencing [his] potential statements.”
“[I]n his opinion, Manafort and [the unidentified person] were reaching out to him and [the first PR worker] because [the PR firm] owned the Hapsburg group and served as intermediaries between Manafort, [Manafort co-defendant Robert] Gates, and [the unidentified person], on the one hand, and the Hapsburg group on the other,” the FBI agent added.
In a statement to Breitbart News on Tuesday, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni denied his client engaged in any wrongdoing.
“Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense,” Maloni said.
“We will do our talking in court.”
The Mueller probe’s thorough search for evidence stands in stark contrast to the FBI’s investigation of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) alleged hacking by foreign agents. The Bureau did not similarly demand that the DNC turn over its email servers for firsthand inspection.