Earlier this year, Donald Trump asserted that the federal government had wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the campaign. This was a wildly incorrect false claim. But while Trump himself never was wiretapped, his reckless behavior after the election appears to have gotten him tied up in a wiretap after all – and in the process, he may have incriminated himself on tape.
This evening, CNN reported that there was a FISA wiretap warrant on Paul Manafort both before and after the election (link). It’s confirmed that the first warrant covered the period of the election after Manafort had departed the Trump campaign, when they continued to communicate by phone. The second warrant covered the period of time after Trump took office and continued to speak with Manafort by phone. This means that the Feds all but certainly have tapes of the conversations between Trump and Manafort. Those tapes are now in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s hands.
Now it comes down to what the two men discussed during these wiretapped conversations. It’s known, for instance, that Manafort told Trump near the end of the election that he should head to Michigan, a state which is widely suspected of having been targeted by the Russians. If Manafort’s advice to Trump included an admission that Russia had paved the way for Trump’s surprise upset in the state, then Trump is on the hook for election collusion or worse. But the wiretapped conversations after the election may be more damning.
By the time Donald Trump and Paul Manafort were communicating in 2017, Trump was the president and Manafort was known to be under federal investigation. Their mutual decision to continue communicating suggests that they were conspiring to try to get themselves and each other off the hook. If so, Trump has nailed himself on obstruction and other charges.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report