The FBI Maintained Paul Manafort’s Email Account

Yesterday, the government released redacted dockets showing the work of Mueller’s grand jury (warrants, d-orders, PRTTs; h/t to CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, who liberated these). They’re not all that useful, though I’m cross referencing them with the known warrants or events. That said, one detail in the list explains something that happened last year. In March 2018, Manafort asked for unredacted copies of seven warrants against him. In April the government responded. They provided a list of the affidavits they had already given Manafort by then:

  • November 17, 2017: Affidavits for searches of his storage facility and condo
  • By December 8, 2017: Affidavits for 11 other search and/or seizure warrants
  • March 26, 2018: Six affidavits (including less redacted versions of those earlier provided)
  • April 4, 2018: March 9, 2018 affidavit for 5 AT&T phones

The government explained in that response that most of what Manafort was still trying to unseal involved names of people who had provided information to the government, other targets of the affidavits, or information on other investigations into Manafort. On May 29, 2018, Amy Berman Jackson refused Manafort’s request for any further unsealing.

The DC-based warrants that Manafort was trying to further unseal were (I’ve put links where the affidavits have been unsealed):

  • In the Matter of the Search of Information Associated with Email Account [email protected] (D.D.C.) (17-mj-00611)
  • In the Matter of the Search of Information Associated with email accounts [email protected],con and [email protected] (D.D.C.) (17-mj-00612)
  • In the Matter of the Search of Hard Drive with Serial Number WXB1AA006666 (D.D.C.) (17-mj-496)
  • In the Matter of the Seizure of Funds from Accounts at Three Banks (D.D.C.) (17-mj-00783, 17-mj-00784, 17-mj-00785)
  • In the Matter of the Search of Information Associated with Five Telephone Numbers Controlled by AT&T (D.D.C.) (18-sc-609)

Ultimately, ABJ refused any further unsealing of the pmanafort or the 5 AT&T warrant affidavits.

Which means (as far as I know) we’ve never seen the full pmanafort warrant. Which is interesting, because here’s what that looks like in the docket:

The docket entry for the Gates and Kilimnik email is unremarkable, showing that Rackspace hosted the email.

But for some reason, in the DC docket, the Manafort entry shows that the FBI maintained Manafort’s email. FBI may have done that (and possibly done it via a VA court, where the earlier parts of this investigation were) to manage the foldering communication that Manafort and Kilimnik used, in which Kilimnik would draft an email but not send it as a way to communicate with Manafort while making the email harder to intercept.

Among the things the FBI discovered by thwarting that foldering technique is that Manafort continued to work with Kilimnik on a plan to carve up Ukraine into 2018.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

40 replies
  1. Areader2019 says:

    AG Bill Barr killed 7 Robert Mueller investigations — 10 days after he submitted his report (rawstory)

    Is this interpretation true? Was Barr really able to apply the brakes like that to active investigstions? Do people in Congress with access to the underlying evidence know what these investigations were?

    It looks like disturbing news.

  2. MattyG says:

    “Foldering”. Clever ruse I hadn’t heard about so far. A scheme similar to two people both having a key to the same luggage locker at some bus station. As long as each party has access to the folder messages can be left without initiating an obvious P2P transfer. I wonder what they found?

    • Rayne says:

      For starters they may have been able to obtain the IP address of the persons accessing the shared “folder” (which can be a number of different files and folders, not just email).

      Funny how nobody in the right-wing has demanded Manafort’s server be turned over to the FBI to prove Manafort wasn’t in communications with Russian intelligence affiliates.

    • BobCon says:

      Foldering was carried out by David Petraeus and the reporter he was having an affair with. The FBI’s ability to detect the Petraeus foldering got a lot of press at the time, which is why it’s somewhat mysterious that Manafort thought it was a good idea.

    • tjallen says:

      With lots of email being completely server-based or webmail these days, the foldering of email drafts may not hide very much. If draft emails are sent to and retrieved from cloud storage (server farms), the movement of data to and from the server(s) is all logged, and should be subpoenaed from the email provider, just like any regular email. A draft email may not leave an obvious email trail, but still leaves a data trail to and from the servers on which it is stored, logged, and likely backed up independent of the users.

    • tjallen says:

      Foldering of email drafts will provide some minimal security when the email program stores the draft locally only, not mirrored on any server. Then the machine itself is shuttled to a second person, who can access the “hidden” and unsent draft email. Nothing is ever sent to the server.

      According to the LA Times story on 2018-07-11, Andrew Weissmann “suggested that Manafort is circumventing jail rules preventing emails by using a second laptop ‘shuttled in and out of the facility’ by his lawyers. ‘When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the Internet and Manafort’s emails are transmitted,’ he wrote.”

      Note that the draft emails need not ever be sent on the internet; the second person can look at the drafts in the folders of the smuggled machine itself.

  3. Molly Pitcher says:

    Marcy, You said at the top that you were cross referencing the redacted dockets and I marvel at your global understanding of this entire mess. I would love to see your work space.

    If it was mine there would be a web of string between the walls connecting photos and documents and an ersatz timeline. I would be at the computer mumbling and occasionally hitting it with a shoe because I couldn’t remember which folder I had put what in.

    You have my utmost respect for that steel trap mind.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      “You have my utmost respect for that steel trap mind.”

      I was thinking 🤔 Tungsten steel Fallopian tubes and a buzzsaw with a carbide blade for a brain. Of course some Graphene integrated in the grey matter of EW’s storage banks to help store and retrieve the quantum data. A hybrid?
      EW could have her show. But that would come with stings attached she does not want or need.


  4. ANZAC Friend says:

    OT: Mueller to testify to Congress in open session about his investigation on 17 July. “The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, in a late-night announcement Tuesday, said that “pursuant to a subpoena” Mueller has agreed to appear before both panels on July 17.”

    After the last two year I’m afraid to get my hopes up.

    • Ruthie says:

      I’ve heard/read speculation that Pelosi is waiting to start impeachment hearings in the fall rather than during the summer when public attention is likelier to be scattered. Not that I believe it – she’s given absolutely no indication she’s moving in that direction. If I were cynical, I might even wonder if they were scheduling his testimony to bury rather than publicize its importance. Not that I believe that, either, but the timing does leave me scratching my head.

      • Buford says:

        the timing makes sense when you factor in the “Americans have a memory of a gold fish….” that way the information gets out, and doesn’t fall down the rabbit hole too quickly…

        • BobCon says:

          The problem with delay is that an effective impeachment process has a lot of supplemental parts — procedural rules to follow, research, scheduling, etc. There is groundwork to be laid, and at the end, a report to be written. All of that takes time, unless Pelosi for some reason wants to replacate the rushed hack job that Gingrich helmed in 1998. There is no value to wasting time, which is one of the scarcest, extinguishable resources available.

          Furthermore, even facing the heightened authority of an impeachment inquiry, the GOP will still stonewall and everything under the sun will be fought in court. Giving away months now only increases the odds that Trump can run out the clock before November 2020.

          The House Democrats control the timing of hearings and votes — none of that changes with delay, and potentially their options get worse.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As BobCon says, an impeachment inquiry takes a lot time and work. It’s making the movie, as it were, for the public to watch in a few hours. Starting yesterday would barely leave enough time to get somewhere before November 2020.

          I don’t think establishment Dems want anything to do with it. Nor do Blue Dogs. Good argument for challenging the most conservative incumbents. The victory for Queens’ new DA, Tiffany Caban, is a good move in that direction.

          The GOP more than the Dems, it seems, know how powerful local and state elections are. It’s a theme Karl Rove has pushed for two decades, with considerable success. Time for Dems to move farther along that learning curve.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        To borrow a line Mr. Obama used with progressives, if the Dems launch an impeachment inquiry, where are the Blue Dogs and establishment Dems gonna go in retaliation? To Trump?

  5. Rugger9 says:

    I see Mueller is going to testify. It will be interesting to see if Mueller is going to get a Palace commissar like Hope did or whether he will see the “absolute immunity” as the BS it is and testify in full anyhow. After all, what can Kaiser Quisling do if Mueller spills the beans anyway, especially about Junior?

    OT but to quote Mark Felt: follow the money….

    The WSJ has the article behind the paywall but it was picked up by Raw Story (I know, I know). What this tells me is that there are many strings to pull for an impeachment inquiry.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As Paul Manafort’s prosecution moves forward in NY state, a quick note to avoid confusion. The names NY gives its state courts differ from the standard form used in federal courts and many states.

    The state trial court is called the Supreme Court. The intermediate appellate court is called the Supreme Court, Appellate Division. The state supreme court is called the Court of Appeals.

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