Special prosecutor Robert Mueller recently accused Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort of breaking his plea agreement by lying to federal agents and prosecutors about his contacts, but what exactly did he lie about?
According to an exclusive report from Vox, Manafort lied about his ongoing contacts with the White House that continued throughout 2017 even after he was indicted.
Sources who spoke to Vox say Manafort advised Trump that he should smear the Justice Department, the FBI, former FBI director James Comey, and Robert Mueller's investigation.
First, Manafort advised the president and his political surrogates to more aggressively and directly attack the FBI and other elements of the federal law enforcement apparatus investigating his administration. The goal of Manafort’s advice was to “delegitimize” the investigation itself, one person familiar with the advice explained to me. Manafort wanted nothing less than to “declare a public relations war on the FBI,” this same person said. Another goal was to discredit then-FBI Director James Comey and other senior FBI officials — as it had become increasingly likely they would be witnesses against the president. [...]
Manafort also advised a senior administration official, through an intermediary, to attack the Justice Department, the FBI, and Obama administration officials for seeking court-authorized warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to eavesdrop on Manafort and a second campaign aide to Trump, Carter Page, as part of counterintelligence and criminal investigations into whether Manafort, Page, and others had conspired with Russia to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
So, we can't say with absolute certainty that Trump did these things just because Manafort told him to, but he did do all of these things.
Manafort's advice that Trump should attack the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is particularly interesting to me.
Congressional Republicans attacked FISA even more vociferously than Trump did and they spent nearly a year trying and failing to find evidence that the FBI somehow defrauded the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by lying on applications for warrants.
You may recall that Trump once threatened to veto the reauthorization of FISA and only backed down after direct intervention from Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. At the time, Trump was neck-deep in conspiracy theories about the FBI, Carter Page, and the Obama administration whom Trump accused of "wiretapping" Trump Tower.
None of that was true, of course, and now we're forced to wonder where all that came from.
The GOP and Trump have no shortage of conspiracy theories they've invented all on their own but, if any of these smears were based on advice from Paul Manafort, it could implicate members of Congress such as outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.
If Manafort was advising administration officials "through an intermediary," who was his intermediary and did they talk to Republicans in Congress?
It seems insane that Manafort thought he could get away with this while under total surveillance. He directed at least part of this smear campaign from inside prison.