Judicial Watch Sues FBI for Records of Meeting Set up By Andrew Weissmann with AP Reporters about Manafort Investigation
APRIL 29, 2019
An FBI agent testified that a meeting with The Associated Press may have led to the raid of Paul Manafort’s personal storage locker
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of a meeting set up by then-Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section Andrew Weissmann between the DOJ, FBI and reporters from The Associated Press (AP), in which Weissmann allegedly provided guidance to reporters investigating Paul Manafort, and which may have led to the raid of Manafort’s storage locker (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00879)).
Just over two months after the meeting, Weissmann was appointed to be Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s top aide in the now-defunct Russia collusion investigation. Under Mueller, Weissmann became known as “the architect of the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort,” which produced no evidence of collusion between Manafort, the Trump campaign, and Russian operatives. It indicted Manafort on unrelated charges.
The Judicial Watch FOIA suit was filed after the FBI failed to respond to a July 5, 2018, FOIA request for:
- All records concerning the April 2017 meeting between Department of Justice and FBI personnel and representatives of The Associated Press. This request includes all notes, reports, memoranda, briefing materials, or other records created in preparation for, during, and/or pursuant to the meeting.
- All records of communication between any representative of the Department of Justice and any of the individuals present at the aforementioned meeting.
Weissmann reportedly arranged a meeting with “DOJ and FBI officials and four Associated Press reporters on April 11, 2017, just over a month before Mueller was appointed special counsel.” At a hearing in June 2017 a special agent testified that “the FBI may have conducted a May 2017 raid of a storage locker that Manafort was renting based on a tip from AP reporters. He also said that the purpose of the meeting was for the DOJ and FBI to obtain information from The AP.”
Judicial Watch previously uncovered documents that show Weissmann had anti-Trump animus. A Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit uncovered a supportive email sent by Weissmann to former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates praising her refusal to enforce President Trump’s Middle East travel ban executive order. Weissmann applauds Yates writing: “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”
“The liberal media and then-soon-to-be Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann seem to have colluded in an effort to target the Trump team,” state Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And rather than comply with the Freedom of Information Act, the DOJ has ignored our request. The illegal secrecy at the DOJ suggests the agency has something to hide about its abusive targeting of President Trump.”