- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2020

Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s jailed former election campaign chairman, once considered Fox News host Sean Hannity a “back channel” to the White House, FBI memos showed Thursday.

Manafort indicated during a 2018 interview with FBI agents that while he was under investigation he considered the “Hannity” host to be a conduit to the Trump administration.

The FBI’s notes summarizing that interview and several others conducted as part of the special counsel’s probe into the 2016 presidential election appeared among more than 350 pages of partially-redacted memos released under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Between the July 2017 search at Manafort’s residence and his October 2017 indictment, Manafort did not recall any direct or indirect contact from anyone in the White House. He spoke to Hannity, who was ‘certainly a back channel,’ but also a personal friend,” the notes said.

“Manafort knew Hannity was speaking to Trump around then because Hannity would tell Manafort to hang in there, that he had been talking to Trump, that Trump had his back and things like that,” the notes continued. “Manafort understood his conversations with Hannity to be a message from Trump.”

Manafort was ultimately convicted of financial crimes unrelated to his role with the Trump campaign and is currently serving a seven years sentence in federal prison.

Neither Mr. Hannity nor Fox News immediately responded to requests for comment from The Washington Times.

Mr. Hannity, a 58-year-old conservative commentator, had been among the most vocal critics on cable television of the special counsel’s investigation prior to its conclusion.

Previously released text messages made public last year showed that Manafort and Mr. Hannity exchanged hundreds of text messages throughout 2017 and 2018.

“Please know you are in my prayers,” Mr. Hannity wrote in one of the messages.

“Thank you. I need them,” Manafort replied. “I feel so violated.”

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