U.S. investigators are looking into money laundering allegations made against Paul Manafort, and apparently special counsel Robert Mueller intends on leveraging that probe to extract information pertaining to the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia during the election. Two sources with knowledge of the investigations told Reuters that Mueller hopes to compel Manafort to cooperate with the larger probe surrounding Russia's election inference.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Mueller's team has been carefully reviewing Manafort's financial and real estate records in New York and its connections to his work in Ukrainian politics.
Between 2006 and 2013, Manafort purchased three homes in New York without initially taking out a mortgage. He later did take out loans against those properties. Real estate and law enforcement experts say some of these transactions fit a pattern used in money laundering. WNYC reported.
Sources did not confirm to Reuters whether Mueller had unsurfaced any evidence of money laundering, but did acknowledge that this information would be vital to flipping President Trump's former campaign manager.
"If Mueller's team can threaten criminal charges against Manafort, they could use that as leverage to convince him to cooperate," one source told Reuters.
Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, indicated to Reuters that his client hadn't been turned yet.
“Paul Manafort is not a cooperating witness. Once again there is no truth to the disinformation put forth by anonymous sources and leakers,” Maloni said.
Manafort's financial situation became even more relevant after Donald Trump Jr. revealed that he and Manafort had attended a meeting with Russian nationals who claimed that they had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.