The investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia was ramped up significantly on Wednesday morning when a pre-dawn raid was conducted on the Alexandria home of Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s top former advisers.
The raid happened a day after Manafort testified privately before the special committee headed by Robert Mueller. Though Manafort had been turning over documents to the committee upon request, the raid indicates that Mueller and the others felt Manafort could not be fully trusted to turn over all material requested.
Now, the FBI has full access to any and all documents in Manafort’s home.
Some said that the raid was unnecessary because of Manafort’s cooperation, but it might be that a show of power was the exact point of the entire display.
In addition to gaining access to all the documents they could want, the unexpected raid could also serve as a warning to the rest of Trump’s team that Mueller and his investigative body are not afraid to step on the Administration’s toes. This warning is important for the independence of the investigation as Trump has repeatedly indicated that he neither likes nor supports the ongoing inquiry.
The Washington Post provided yet another interesting motivation for the raid; that the FBI was searching for non-Russian dirt on Manafort to use as leverage.
“Manafort’s allies fear that Mueller hopes to build a case against Manafort unrelated to the 2016 campaign, in hopes that the former campaign operative would provide information against others in Trump’s inner circle in exchange for lessening his own legal exposure.”
Considering that Manafort is one of the sketchiest men in American politics today (no small feat), this seems like a reasonable fear.
Either way, Mueller’s display of power will no doubt infuriate President Trump and send a strong message that he and his investigative body are no pawns of the presidency.