Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment

Prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly told former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort that they planned to indict him when they picked his lock and raided his Virginia home in July.

The warning, allegedly a shock-and-awe tactic, came as federal agents combed through Manafort's computer files, documents and any other potential pieces of evidence that could help them in their federal investigation, The New York Times reported Monday, citing two people close to the investigation.

ADVERTISEMENT
The jarring comment is part of the approach Mueller and his team have embraced since May when the Justice Department named them to lead the high-profile investigation earlier, which aims to intimidate witnesses and possible targets of the probe, the newspaper reported.

The right to pick a lock and enter Manafort's home unannounced, even with a warrant in hand, means prosecutors had to convince a federal judge that Manafort would likely try to destroy evidence upon making themselves known.

Manafort, who was fired from Trump's campaign last summer, has emerged as a key figure in Mueller's investigation as prosecutors continue to scrutinize possible ties to Russia, his lobbying work overseas and other previous business transactions. 

A spokesman for Mueller declined the Times's request for comment and so did the lawyers and a spokesman for Manafort.

Mueller's probe is broadly investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election as well as whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Kremlin in order to fix the outcome so that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE would end up in the Oval Office.

The report comes at a time when the investigation appears to be picking up steam as the federal prosecutor continues to sniff around the White House for leads.

Mueller has reportedly issued a series of subpoenas to pressure witnesses to testify before a grand jury. Manafort's spokesman reportedly testified before a federal grand jury in Washington on Friday. As did one of Manafort's former lawyers, during which Mueller claimed an exception to the attorney-client privacy rule.

The Times report came around the same time Monday afternoon that CNN reported the government wiretapped Manafort's phone during and after the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort has not been charged with any crime.