U.S. investigators wiretapped President Trump’s former election campaign chairman Paul Manafort during and after the 2016 election, according to CNN.
CNN on Monday reported that the federal government’s spying extended into earlier this year, when Manafort was known to talk to Trump after the latter entered office.
Three sources familiar with the probe told CNN that some of the intelligence gathered included communications that sparked concerns among investigators.
CNN’s sources said the communications raised fears that Manafort encouraged the Russians to help with Trump’s bid.
Two of the network’s sources cautioned, however, that the evidence about the interactions is not conclusive.
Some Twitter users on Tuesday debated whether the reported surveillance of Manafort vindicates Trump’s past claims that he was wiretapped in 2016.
Why is it so hard, [for the media] to report that Obama's Government ordered the wire-tapping?— KCRovin (@KCRovin) September 19, 2017
I didn't see anything saying trump was wiretapped— Douglas Kennedy (@Killernewf74) September 19, 2017
CNN reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been provided details of Manafort’s communications.
Mueller is probing Russian interference in the 2016 race, including possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
The New York Times on Monday reported that two sources close to Mueller’s investigation say his prosecutors told Manafort he planned to indict him in July.
The court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) first authorized the wiretapping of Manafort in a secret order in 2014.
CNN’s sources said that the FBI began probing Manafort that year while looking into his work for Ukraine’s former ruling party as part of a group of Washington, D.C. consulting firms.
One source told CNN that the surveillance was ended at some point in 2016 due to lack of evidence.
The FBI ultimately restarted examining Manafort, however, after obtaining a new FISA warrant that lasted into early this year.
The second warrant was part of the FBI’s efforts to scrutinize ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.
The court that oversees government spying under FISA operates in secret, meaning the existence of warrants justifying such surveillance rarely becomes public knowledge.
The warrants need approval from top FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, and the FBI must also justify them to the court required for approval.
The FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of a warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
Trump earlier this year accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in New York City.
The DOJ confirmed in a court filing earlier this month, however, that neither it nor the FBI had any information backing Trump’s claim.
Manafort had a residence in Trump Tower, but it remains unclear whether FBI surveillance of him took place there.