By Cathy Burke | NEWSMAX
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped by U.S. investigators under secret court orders — both before and after the election, CNN reported Monday night.
The government surveillance continued into early this year — a period during which Manafort spoke with President Donald Trump, according to the outlet.
The intelligence might have included communications Manafort allegedly encouraged Russians to help with the campaign, according to CNN, which cited three unnamed sources.
Trump has claimed former President Barack Obama had him wiretapped in Trump Tower, though the Justice Department asserted there was no evidence of that.
But the CNN report raises a question of whether his conversations with Manafort were picked up.
Two of the three sources told CNN the evidence is not conclusive.
Separately, The New York Times reported that federal agents, armed with a search warrant, raided Manafort’s Virginia home last July — and prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller told Manafort later they planned to indict him.
CNN reported Mueller’s team, which is leading the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, has been given details of the Manafort wiretap.
According to CNN, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court order began after Manafort wound up subject of an FBI investigation begun in 2014. The probe centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former ruling party.
That investigation was discontinued last year because of lack of evidence, CNN reported.
But the FBI’s interest was rekindled by intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves, CNN reported — and the agency obtained a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early 2017.
According to CNN, conversations between Manafort and Trump continued after he took office — and continued until lawyers for both men put a stop to them.
It is unclear whether Trump himself was picked up on the wiretap, CNN reported.
Manafort, who quit the Trump campaign in August 2016, denied he ever “knowingly” communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election — and also denied participating in any Russian efforts to “undermine the interests of the United States,” CNN noted.