|Nervous yet, Paulie boy?|
(PHOTO: US News & World Report)
"What's certainly the case is that the FBI, backed by the Justice Department, felt it had ample evidence to pursue the warrant based on what they already knew about Manafort and his dealings. The surveillance first began in 2014, well before the election or The Age of Trump, with the FBI's investigation into Manafort's work on behalf of Ukraine's former ruling party. Eventually, we would learn that Manafort was paid at least $17 million to work with the party of Kremlin-backed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A ledger that popped up in Ukraine last year also appeared to detail payments. […]
That second warrant was linked to the Justice Department investigation into ties between Trump campaign associates—Manafort was once the campaign chairman—and Russian officials. The warrant would have needed the approval of top brass at both the FBI and DOJ. In theory, it's difficult to secure a FISA warrant, particularly against an American citizen—though that's debated—and the FBI would need to have shown "suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power." It's not the first such FISA warrant the FBI has secured to monitor a member of Trumpworld: They also got one to keep tabs on Carter Page, the former campaign foreign policy adviser who knows his way around Moscow. […]
It's unclear when exactly the surveillance kicked back into gear, but CNN reports Manafort managed to recapture the FBI's attention when he was caught on intercepted communications with "Russian operatives." (Here it would seem the Russian operatives were under surveillance and Manafort was caught in the net, much like Trump could have been caught in a similar net set for him.) The FBI also caught chatter among the Russians themselves that turned their attention back to Manafort. While the exact timeline is unconfirmed, a source told CNN the FBI was not listening in June 2016, when Manafort joined a meeting at Trump Tower organized by Donald Trump, Jr., with an intriguing ensemble of characters, including a Kremlin-connected lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Whatever the FBI did find has been turned over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators."
The only thing that will drive this administration back into the whole from whence it came is Death By A Thousand Cuts. It's too big, too entrenched in the system that spawned it for this to happen any other way. While such damage may be maddeningly slow to inflict, it sure is a helluva lot of fun to watch guys like Manafort flinch every time the feel the sting of the lash.