Before he came on board as first an adviser, then the chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Paul Manafort had at least two meetings with the FBI.
The documents filed late Monday by prosecutors in the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, show that the FBI had interviewed Manafort in March 2013 and again in July 2014. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, who also held a top role with Trump’s campaign, was interviewed by the FBI in July 2014, the documents show.
They weren’t alone. The FBI had also interviewed Carter Page, who was a known recruitment target for Russia and the world’s least-stealthy would-be double agent.
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter obtained by TIME that raises new questions about the extent of Page’s contacts with the Russian government over the years.
Manafort, Gates and Page were already on the FBI’s radar well before they were on Trump’s payroll. And it’s not as if the Moscow connection of any of the three was hidden. Manafort played up his Russian connections and the work he had done in Ukraine as the highlight of his consulting work. And still both Donald Trump—and the RNC—hired Paul Manafort.
The information raises fresh questions about how closely the Trump campaign vetted staff members and whether Manafort and Gates told officials about their interactions with the FBI.
Actually, it just delivers the definitive answer to the same old question: Donald Trump doesn’t vet anyone. He just hires on the basis of flattery.
The massive turnover rate in Trump’s White House, and the problem he’s discovering in handing over the VA to a doctor who can’t even accurately measure height or weight, are extensions of the same issue. Trump doesn’t vet.
There seems to be little reason, when Trump’s own background is replete with everything from a string of bankruptcies, 3,400 lawsuits, a record number of violations of money laundering at his casino, self-dealing from a “charity” created as a way to tap tax-free funds, at least 19 accusations of sexual assault and an unknown number of payoffs to women with whom he’s had affairs. Why should Trump check into anyone’s background, when the worst person they could be associated with is simply Donald Trump?
Paul Manafort’s trial is slated for July.