- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2017

The State Department is facing questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat over Paul Manafort’s possession of multiple U.S. passports.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland sent a letter Friday to John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of State, seeking information about the three passports belonging to Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, referenced in a federal indictment unsealed this week, The Hill first reported.

“I write seeking additional details surrounding the State Department’s issuance of multiple passports for Paul Manafort, Jr.,” Mr. Carin wrote, according to The Hill.

“While there are legitimate reasons for an individual to hold more than one U.S. passport, the circumstances under which an individual would simultaneously hold multiple passports are generally very limited,” Mr. Cardin wrote, the report said.

A grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed a 12-count indictment on Monday charging Mr. Manafort and another former member of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, Rick Gates, with crimes including conspiracy against the United States, tax fraud and money laundering.

Charging documents filed by federal prosecutors called Mr. Manafort a flight risk given his vast wealth, frequent traveling and substantial ties abroad, among other factors.

“In a little more than the last ten years, Manafort has submitted ten United States Passport applications on ten different occasions, indicative of his travel schedule,” prosecutors wrote in a footnote filed Tuesday.

“He currently has three United States passports, with different numbers,” prosecutors wrote.

Mr. Cardin has asked the State Department for details on its rules for issuing multiple passports to the same person and said he is trying to “assess whether these passports were properly issued and align with existing State Department policies,” The Hill reported.

The State Department declined to comment on Mr. Manafort’s passports, CNN reported, but said in a statement that typically “no person shall bear or be in possession of more than one valid or potentially valid passport of the same type (regular, official, diplomatic, no-fee regular or passport card) at any time, unless authorized by the Department of State.”

Requests from individuals seeking more than one passport are considered on a case-by-cases basis, a spokesperson said, CNN reported.

Kevin Downing, an attorney for Mr. Manafort, said “it is perfectly permissible to have more than one U.S. passport,” CNN reported.

Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates were charged by a federal grand jury convened by Mr. Mueller in order to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Both men pleaded not guilty, and their trials are currently slated to begin in May 2018.

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