Judge Orders Production of Manafort Warrant Affidavits

WASHINGTON (CN) – Unredacted affidavits that the government used to obtain search-and-seizure warrants against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are due Monday, a federal judge ruled.

In this July 17, 2016, file photo, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as Rick Gates listens at back left. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Asserting that the government omitted critical information from its affidavits, Manafort had asked the court on March 28 to let him see the filings. Manafort claims he needs the affidavits to determine whether his Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the order for production on Friday morning, saying she will review the documents in her chambers. Manafort could ask the court to make them public later, but for now they will remain secret. Jackson’s minute order also says the agent who signed the affidavit for the search of Manafort’s storage unit in Alexandria, Virginia, must be available to testify, if necessary, during a May 23 hearing in the case.

Manafort is vying to suppress evidence obtained from the storage unit, along with a private residence in Virginia. Prosecutors say an employee of a Manafort business with a key to the storage unit and whose name appears on the lease, gave federal agents consent to enter prior to obtaining a search warrant.

Manafort denies that the man, identified as Alexander Trusko in court filings, had such authority.

Jackson’s order Friday coincides with a statement by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller has narrowed the subject areas for a possible interview with the president from five to two.

It remains unclear whether Trump will agree to an interview, but Giuliani said Friday that negotiation with the special counsel’s team is ongoing. The special counsel’s team declined to comment on Giuliani’s statements to CNN this morning.

Trump meanwhile continues to publicly attack the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt,” and has sharpened his attacks on the Department of Justice by amplifying a theory circulating on the right that the agency set out to frame him by planting a spy in his campaign.

Friday morning he promoted the theory on Twitter.

“Reports are there was indeed at least on FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story,” he tweeted. “If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

Earlier in the morning Trump quoted Fox Business anchor David Asman in a tweet on the topic: “Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.”

On CNN Friday morning, Giuliani said neither he nor the president knows for sure if such an informant exists, but have long heard of “some kind of infiltration.”

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