Paul Manafort’s Four Oligarch Search Warrant
In advance of a suppression hearing before the mercurial TS Ellis on Friday, Mueller’s team further unsealed the materials surrounding the two warrants at issue — of Manafort’s storage container, and of his Condo. In the unsealing of the latter, they disclosed this language from a July 2017 affidavit.
However, in the Manafort Interview conducted that same year , Manafort told the FBI that he did significant work for Deripaska, a Russian oligarch. And in March 2017, in response to press reports concerning a written annual contract between Manafort and Deripaska, Manafort publicly confirmed that he had provided investment consulting services to Deripaska interests. [Redacted] also told the FBI that Deripaska helped fund Manafort’s Ukrainian work when it began in 2005-06.4 And the 2010 tax returns for a company jointly owned by Manafort and his wife — John Hannah, LLC® — reveals a $10,000,000 loan to the company from a “Russian lender.” A court-authorized search in May 2017 of a storage locker in Virginia used by Manafort revealed documents that show that the identity of the Russian lender was *Derapaska.”
4 [Entirely redacted footnote]
The news of a $10M loan from Deripaska — which the FBI obtained via the other search warrant Manafort is challenging — is certainly newsworthy.
But I’m interested in what goals — whether legal, PR, or other — Mueller’s team has in unsealing this information for the Friday hearing, especially when it would have been so damn useful in the challenge to Mueller’s authority that Ellis just rejected, given how it makes the tie between the Party of Regions work and the willingness to “collude” with Russians to help Trump win much more directly.
But it’s not just Deripaska. The July affidavit names four Russian or Ukrainian oligarchs. In addition to Deripaska, there’s this reference to Rinat Akhmetov.
This redacted reference to Dmitri Firtash.
And this likely accidental newly unredacted reference to Aras Agalarov, the guy behind the June 9 meeting.
We knew of all these ties. Now we know they’re all part of what the Mueller team is looking at as they continue to investigate Manafort.
Yet only the detail that it took the May 2017 search on Manafort’s storage unit to confirm that Deripaska had bankrolled the Party of Regions work(and therefore to demonstrate the import of Konstantin Kilimnik being named a co-conspirator in Manafort’s efforts to tamper with witnesses), as well as that that detail came from a cooperating witness, would help the government demonstrate that the two searches were valid.
The materials also include the warrant returns, which probably will be discussed. In addition to proof that only a fraction of the boxes from the storage facility were seized, which has been clear for some time, the July return provides far more detail on the slew of devices the government seized. They show that all but possibly one of the iPods seized are recent enough to be used for secure texting.
The imaging or seizure of all these iPods (there are more!) had been one complaint of Manafort’s. Coupling these technical details with the reaffirmation that Mueller was searching for evidence on the June 9 meeting, where Manafort is known to have taken notes on a device, would justify seizing such things.
The warrant return also reveals that one of Manafort’s iPhones doesn’t have an Apple ID.
This, however, may be my favorite detail from the search warrant return.
Also, the latter search return makes it clear that FBI carefully segregated any materials that might be privileged.
In any case, while the search warrant return, coupled with the unsealed parts of the affidavit, will certainly be useful Friday. Six pages of the affidavit, including all discussion of what the government knew about the June 9 meeting on July 26, 2017, remain redacted. Remember, this search happened after Manafort turned over materials to SSCI and was interviewed, but before the SJC appearance he ended up canceling.
All that said, I wonder whether this unsealing has as much to do with signaling others — maybe even people who know about any Hyatt Regency Kyiv meetings that might be of interest — what the government seized in its search of Manafort’s home.