- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Justice Department’s Inspector General should investigate leaks that indicate U.S. authorities wiretapped President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the transcripts of the intercepts should be publicly released, his spokesman said Tuesday.

The demand came a day after CNN reported that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved two surveillance orders targeting Mr. Manafort — one in 2014 before he was involved in the Trump campaign and another that extended into this year.

For a U.S. citizen to be the target of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order, authorities have to establish probable cause that the person is an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Tuesday that, if true, it’s a felony crime to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant.

“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,” Mr. Maloni said.

Citing “three sources familiar with the investigation,” CNN reported that “the government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”

SEE ALSO: Paul Manafort wiretapped — and suddenly, Donald Trump’s not so crazy

Mr. Manafort has owned a home in Trump Tower since 2006.

In March of this year, Mr. Trump tweeted that he had “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

CNN reported that the surveillance orders granted by the court allowed the FBI to tap Mr. Manafort’s phones. The first order was related to an investigation of his consulting work with Ukrainian politicians, a probe that CNN said was abandoned at some point in 2016.

On Tuesday, Mr. Maloni also said that the intercepts will prove Mr. Manafort did nothing wrong, noting that the Obama Justice Department had abandoned the probe.

“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,” he said.

Indeed, according to two of CNN’s three sources, the wiretaps on Mr. Manafort did not pick up conclusive evidence.

SEE ALSO: Paul Manafort wiretapped during Trump campaign

But the FBI later got a second warrant to surveil Mr. Manafort as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian operatives. That warrant was good into at least part of 2017, CNN reported.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether members of the Trump campaign were involved in those efforts. Mr. Manafort has become a focus of that probe, with FBI agents raiding his Alexandria residence in July.

Mr. Maloni has himself been drawn into the ongoing special counsel’s probe.

Politico reported Friday that Mr. Maloni appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. that is probing possible collusion between Moscow and the campaign.

“I was ordered to appear before the grand jury,” Mr. Maloni said as he emerged from the courthouse. “I answered questions and I’ve been dismissed. That’s all I have to say.”

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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