NBC News is reporting that the FBI has opened a preliminary inquiry into the business connections of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort:
The FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s foreign business connections, law enforcement and intelligence sources told NBC News Monday.
Word of the inquiry, which has not blossomed into a full-blown criminal investigation, comes just days after FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure that his agency is examining a new batch of emails connected to an aide to Hillary Clinton…
The FBI did not comment. Manafort told NBC News “none of it is true … There’s no investigation going on by the FBI that I’m aware of.” He said he had never had ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, or had dealings with Putin and his government. He said any suggestion of such ties was “Democratic propaganda.”
“This is all political propaganda, meant to deflect,” he said.
Manfort resigned as chairman of the Trump campaign in August after a series of stories pointed to his lobbying work in Ukraine. Shortly after that announcement it was revealed that Manafort’s company was one part of a wide-ranging investigation by the FBI. From CNN back on August 19th:
FBI and Justice Department prosecutors are conducting an investigation into possible US ties to alleged corruption of the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine, including the work of Paul Manafort’s firm, according to multiple US law enforcement officials…
The probe is also examining the work of other firms linked to the former Ukrainian government, including that of the Podesta Group, the lobbying and public relations company run by Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
What’s not immediately clear is when the FBI investigation which was revealed in August led to the one that was revealed today. The NBC News story doesn’t offer any kind of timeline or clarify to what extent, if any, the new “inquiry” is an upgrade from the previously disclosed investigation.
It would be interesting to know if this has been going on for some time and only leaked now as a kind of push back to the FBI Director’s letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton’s emails. If nothing else, this may explain why James Carville was on television today seemingly trying to connect the Comey letter to the hacking by Russia rather than to the sexting scandal of Anthony Weiner which actually prompted it.