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Somebody faked that the Crossfire Hurricane team had a FISA on Paul Manafort & "leaked" this to CNN

And the culprits may have been the Special Counsel's Office, trying to influence D.C's Chief Judge into allowing the SCO to pierce Manafort's Attorney/Client privilege

Over two and a half years ago, on Sep 18, 2017, CNN ran this "bombshell” article alleging that the FBI team investigating Russian "Collusion" had a FISA warrant on Paul Manafort:

"Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman“…:
Before looking in detail at the extraordinary claims in CNN's article, let’s just clarify that the core of the story - that the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane team sought and obtained an FISA warrant on Manafort - isn’t just wrong, or false. It's totally fake. 100% made up.
Here is DOJ IG Horowitz emphatically stating in his report that not only did the FBI's Crossfire team not seek a FISA on Manafort, they never even “seriously considered” FISA surveillance of Manafort. (Horowitz repeated that no FISA existed at all under oath to Congress too)
CNN itself acknowledged this when the IG report was released, appending an "editors note” in Dec 9, 2019, saying it “contradicts” their Sep 18, 2017 story, without offering any explanation or trying to defend it
Let's look at the rest of the claims in this CNN story, before speculating who would give this fake information to CNN, and why
The non-existent FISA started in 2014 over Ukraine, was stopped, then “restarted”, likely after Manafort was ousted from Trump's campaign in mid Aug 2016, and “extended at least into early [2017]”, “before and after the election”
CNN “learned” the FISA also included a *physical* search “of a storage facility belonging to Manafort”

(Note: it is already known that the search of this storage facility was briefed to the Associated Press by the SCO's Andrew Weissmann):…
The FISA "snooping” included a time when Manafort was “known to talk to President Donald Trump”, and "sparked” concern that “Manafort had encouraged the Russians” to help the Trump campaign, and that the SCO had copies of these "communications”
And CNN's "sources" also claimed there was a "gap" in the FISA due to it being stopped and restarted. When was the "gap"? Oh, in June 2016, during the Trump Tower meeting. Maybe that's when the Collusion must have happened, in this "crucial" period when nobody was listening…!
Unmentioned by CNN is that SCO already knew this public narrative on Trump Tower (leaked in July 2017, 3 months beforehand) was false, based on their own interview of the translator at the meeting. And that Manafort had done literally zero at the meeting:…
So whoever "leaked" this story to CNN is crafting this (fake) narrative:

—Manafort had a FISA (meaning there's probable cause he's an agent of a foreign power)

—There was a gap in the FISA, and maybe that's where the "Collusion" was really happening, maybe even with Trump
A recap of the Manafort case and two key court hearings may show motive for why someone would want to make up such an elaborate fake FISA story to bolster the Collusion narrative, and leak it to CNN, timed to land on Sep 18 2017
July 26, 2017: The SCO carried out a dawn raid on Manafort's house.…
Aug 2, 2017: Rod Rosenstein writes his first "scope" memo, authorizing the SCO to investigate Manafort for potential "Collusion" with Russia, and for "payments he received from the Ukrainian government"
FYI - it's worth noting at this point that the "Collusion" allegations were based on the Steele dossier, leaked to the media. And the "payments" allegation was substantially based on the fake "black ledger" of "cash payments" to Manafort, also leaked.…)
Aug 18, 2017: The SCO issued a subpoena to Manafort's lawyer to testify against him to the Grand Jury. Manafort's lawyer refused, and the Special Counsel filed a motion to compel the Attorney to testify as a witness.
The Chief Judge in D.C. overseeing the case (Beryl Howell) then held a hearing on Sep 19, 2017 (and two others on Sep 20 & 26).…
IMPORTANT: Those Sep 19/20/26 hearings weren't reported anywhere at the time and only became "public" 6 weeks later in the court filing linked above (See 'Exhibit A'). You still can't find almost any stories on them at all, anywhere in the media. Google for yourself and see.
And these hearings were crucial to the SCO’s case: they needed Manafort’s own lawyer to testify against him, to ensure they could get the charges about FARA violations to stick.
Sep 18, 2017: one day before those court hearings, this CNN story exploded all over the media. The takeaway - Manafort was considered such a Russian "Collusion" threat, that the FBI even got a FISA warrant, and the SCO has copies of the communications obtained under the FISA!
Oct 2, 2017: Judge Howell ruled against Manafort (in a non-public sealed opinion), ultimately piercing Attorney/Client privilege and forcing his lawyer to testify against him about the preparation of those FARA filings. Big win for the SCO
The Grand Jury testimony of Manafort's lawyer sought by the SCO helped secure Manafort's indictment on Oct 27, which was made public on Oct 31, 2017 following his arrest
Now it's admittedly speculative that the CNN story influenced Judge Howell, but the introduction to her order justifying forcing the lawyers testimony looks ridiculous in retrospect drawn right from the CNN narrative: a case of "national importance" about Manafort's "Collusion”!
Despite Judge Howell's solemn tone about "national importance" and "Collusion" involving Manafort, in reality, Manafort eventually stood trial for crimes like tax evasion, bank fraud and false FARA filings, committed long before he was ever associated with the Trump campaign
And prior to Manafort's trial, the SCO even admitted in response to Brady motions to his trial lawyers that the US government had *no surveillance intercepts* of Manafort AT ALL. Zip
(CNN didn’t report this, or update/retract their original story either)
Then the SCO asserted that "Collusion" wouldn't even be mentioned at Manafort's trial. Instead, we got stories about his expensive Ostrich jacket. Clearly a matter of grave "national importance” 🙄…
But there is a bigger picture about why someone would go to the elaborate lengths of faking a FISA story in the national media, helping force Manafort's lawyer to flip on him. Because this wasn't the real aim... was to set a tone or "rep" to get to @realDonaldTrump himself
Just a couple of months after Manafort's lawyer was turned against him, @GenFlynn own attorneys Covington & Burling would cite this aggressive "Manafort treatment" in their own interviews with the SCO, likely fearing they'd get the same if they didn't get Flynn to plead guilty
Covington and Burling no doubt feared being dragged in front of Grand Jury, leaked about in the media, and asked to explain their FARA filing preparations as Manafort’s attorney had been, especially as legal assistance with FARA is a big part of their business. So they caved.
In addition, something not known at the time of the CNN leaks, is that Trump's own personal attorney Michael Cohen was also under investigation by the SCO. So that’s Manafort’s attorney, Flynn's attorneys and Trump’s attorney all in the SCO’s crosshairs
In fact, the SCO had sought search warrants on Cohen's personal devices/comms as early as *July 18, 2017*. Guess who from? Yep, the same Chief Judge Beryl Howell in D.C. This was kept under seal for nearly two years. But of course the SCO knew and planned all of this at the time
The NYT:… made this exact point about "setting a tone" *the day before* the CNN Manafort leak, only a couple of days before the Manafort attorney hearing, via Collusion friendly reporters
Just in case nobody got the message the SCO was putting out, these were reported side by side in The Atlantic…, strongly suggesting that both the Sep 18, 2017 NYT and Sep 19, 2017 CNN stories were likely coordinated leaks of information from the SCO itself
And just in case the D.C Chief Judge reads Lawfare (lets be honest, she probably does), you can always rely on Comey's homey's over there to get punked or boost SCO fakery, in this case saying that thanks to the CNN story "Lordy, there appear to be tapes".…
Ultimately, the purpose of these fake stories and this coordinated leaking campaign was so the Special Counsel could establish an aggressive "rep" on the street

*We can even get your lawyers to talk. Maybe we've even heard what you've said to them already on a FISA (wink wink)*
This troubling pattern makes it clear that the SCO's goal was to go after even the lawyers defending Trump's team, Manafort, Flynn and Trump himself
Maybe this aggressive approach would be justified had there been any "Collusion", or an actual threat to national security, but we now know that the SCO knew they had nothing *at the time* they were doing this

All these leaks should be re-evaluated with that key fact in mind

The media were willing participants in SCO intimidation. And while CNN did append an editors note over two years later, they've done nothing to expose the "sources" of this fake FISA, who likely are former members of the Special Counsel's Office

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