The media on Wednesday was busy casting dark shadows over revelations that the FBI went to onetime Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home and took some documents for the investigation, which has produced no evidence so far, of the “Russia” connection.
In fact, multiple headlines presented the situation as if Manafort was a highly sought fugitive, instead of the witness cooperating with Congress and others.
“FBI conducted predawn raid … ” said the Washington Post. And the Week magazine added, “The FBI conducted a predawn raid … ”
But instead of him being a danger to others, the danger in the case now has developed for Manafort, and others who have become targets for the more-or-less unlimited scope of special counsel Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation, says Rush Limbaugh.
The talk-radio icon was on the air immediately to issue the warning that whether there were any real crimes is not so much the issue now. It’s whether the FBI wants to find a crime against someone.
“Now this predawn raid of a supposedly cooperating witness is puzzling. Now, Manafort’s allies, if you will, fear that what’s going on here is an attempt by Mueller – remember, there’s no limits on this guy’s scope. He can investigate anything.
“And Manafort buddies fear that Mueller is hoping or trying to build a case against Manafort that’s unrelated to the 2016 campaign.”
He continued, “And if they can make a case – and, by the way, when they have unlimited money and a no-limitations scope and if they want to find somebody who has done something illegal, irregular, or if they want to create that – this is another thing – they can create a process crime. Very simply, a witness can tell Mueller’s team, ‘Yeah, that happened on Tuesday.’ But what if it really happened on Wednesday? They can say the guy lied to ’em. Process crime.
“The point is that once they find something to charge, then they’ve got leverage, and then they can offer a deal. ‘Okay, Manafort, look what we found here. We found that back in 2008, you were doing X, and it led to event Y, and we don’t think you want people to know about this. We’re willing to let you go in this if you’ll turn state’s evidence or if you’ll tell us what was actually going on between the Trump campaign and Russia.’ That’s the great fear,” he explained.
He said that’s why it’s a “very dangerous time.”
“Remember, this is what did in Martha Stewart. They didn’t find any evidence of any wrongdoing, so they created the crime during the investigation. It’s become a staple, if you will, in the ammunition that prosecutors have at their disposal. If they want to get somebody, interview ’em 15 different times on the same subject. You get the point where the interviewee says, ‘I’ve told you this! I’ve told you this 10 times. What more…’ ‘We want to hear it again.’ And if there’s any variance, here comes the process charge. ‘You lied to federal investigators. You lied to us!’ ‘I didn’t lie. I got the date wrong.’ ‘You lied. That’s the charge! We have the power, we have the ability, we have the desire to charge you.’”
He explained, “There’s no limits on this, folks. It is a very dangerous time for everybody involved. And when I saw this predawn raid … Look, it caught me up short because he supposedly is cooperating. You just don’t raid before everybody’s up? I mean, here you’re sleeping – you’re soundly sleeping – and all of a sudden lights and sirens outside your house before the sun comes up, and it’s the FBI with a search warrant?”
As for real crimes? Even Russia Today conceded of the investigation, “No evidence of any improper contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian government has yet been presented.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune suggested the manner of approach used by the FBI means Mueller didn’t trust Manafort to provide documents to a grand jury.
“Unnamed sources told the Post that FBI agents seized some documents that Manfort had already given to Congress in its own separate investigation,” said the report, which added that the New York Times later said agents seized tax documents and foreign banking records.
The Union also admitted, “It remains unclear what, if any, evidence the FBI will find that ties Manafort to a wider effort by Russians to influence the 2016 elections, but it signals the agency’s willingness to leave no stone unturned.”
It also described Mueller’s team of investigators, most of whom supported Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, including financially, as an “all-star team.”
Online commenters quickly pointed out that there has been no such raid on former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or others who were caught up in a wide range of scandals from government secrets on an unsecure email server to Bill Clinton’s clandestine meeting with Lynch on the Phoenix airport tarmac while Lynch’s agency was considering criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.
Time magazine took it on itself to explain the situation.
“The act of carrying out a search on a witness is a powerful psychological tool that can prompt a witness to become more forthcoming or name more targets,” the report said. “It’s a sign that lack of cooperation from the witness won’t be take lightly.”
The Washington Post noted investigators may be intending to use Manafort “as leverage.”
“Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign isn’t the only aspect of his life under federal investigation,” the newspaper said, citing “money laundering allegations,” his work in Ukraine, and more.
“That’s significant leverage investigators have on Manafort. If they can’t convince Manafort to cooperate on the Russia investigation – and this search warrant is evidence that they feel they couldn’t – they could potentially force him to cooperate by threatening him with unrelated legal trouble.”
While the media was suggesting some negative aspect of Manafort’s case prompted the FBI action, others held another opinion.
Fox host Jon Scott suggested, “Some might call it, I don’t know, witness intimidation.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky added, “I frankly have a bad suspicion that this is part of Mueller’s shock and awe to get back at critics of him and to show them that he may take advantage of the power he’s got, particularly with regard to his critics.”
It was, after all, the same FBI that publicly admitted persecuting Christian and conservative groups whose ideologies did not align with then-President Obama’s during the 2012 election. The federal agency arbitrarily denied them the right to function has their organizational structure was set up, demanded they answer questions about their prayers, and more.
John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor, then claimed, of von Spakovsky’s concerns, “There’s no evidence of that at all.”