The lawyers, Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle, argue that the FBI agent who initially searched the unit on May 26, 2017, did so “after obtaining ‘consent’ to do so from a former low-level employee of Davis Manafort Partners, Inc.” who “had no actual authority to allow the FBI Agent into the premises.”
After that initial review of the storage unit — the agent did not open any of the boxes — the agent then filed an application for a search warrant, detailing the labels he’d seen on some of the boxes and how they related to items that the agent was seeking, making it “reasonable to believe that this storage unit is a collection point for Manafort’s and Gates’s business records from their work in Ukraine.”
In the search warrant application, the agent said that the person who authorized the initial review had once worked for Davis Manafort Partners but was working for different Manafort company, Steam Mountain, LLC. Manafort’s filing refers exclusively to the individual as a “former” employee. U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan issued the search warrant on May 27, and the FBI returned to the unit and executed the warrant that day.