Manafort, Hannity talk Trump, Mueller in previously undisclosed messages

A federal judge has released messages that appear to show former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortComey says 'Fox & Friends' canceled booking after release of watchdog report on Trump probe Horowitz report is damning for the FBI and unsettling for the rest of us Watchdog report finds FBI not motivated by political bias in Trump probe MORE discussing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE’s investigation with Fox News host and Trump ally Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityTrump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe CNN Pelosi town hall finishes third in cable news ratings race, draws 1.6M Georgia ready for unpredictable Senate race MORE in 2017 and 2018.

The logs, which date back to mid-July 2017, show Manafort and a television host named “Sean” leveling repeated attacks on Mueller’s team of prosecutors. They also discuss Manafort’s legal representation, political attacks against Trump and content that appears to come from Hannity’s Fox News evening show.

The messages continued up until early June 2018, before Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud in the Eastern District of Virginia and before he pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation –– a deal that ultimately fell apart when a judge ruled Manafort had lied to the special counsel’s team about multiple subjects.

ADVERTISEMENT

The names of the two men are first redacted in the documents. But logs of the later messages, while blurry, show their names.

Hannity tweeted in response to the messages' release Friday that his view of Mueller's investigation and treatment of Manafort "were made clear every day to anyone who listens to my radio show or watches my TV show."

The Hill has also reached out to Manafort’s attorneys for comment.

The conversation logs released Friday begin roughly two months after Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, and continue up to early June 2018.

In the initial chats, Manafort and Hannity discuss the FBI raid on Manafort’s home, and Hannity repeatedly expresses sympathy and offers support to the former Trump campaign head.

At the same time, Manafort praises Hannity’s monologues during his evening show, and describes Hannity as a steadfast supporter and fighter for his cause.

One week after the FBI raid on Manafort’s home, Hannity texted him, “Please know you are in my prayers.”

“Thank you. I need them,” Manafort replied. “I feel so violated.”

“If you just ever want to talk, grab dinner, vent, strategize-- whatever, I am here. I know this is very hard. Stand tall and strong,” Hannity said.

A couple days later, Manafort thanked the Fox News personality for his support and claimed that “Mueller is trying to intimidate me.”

“I understand how corrupt this system is. HRC NOTHING. A NATIONAL DISGRACE,” Hannity said. "ALWAYS HERE."

Hannity also repeatedly espouses the themes that he brings up during his evening show, including allegations of a bias against Trump from within the Department of Justice. He and Manafort both described those associated with the president, including Manafort, as “road kill” in a bid to damage Trump.

Hannity also described his experience as a fierce defender of the president, claiming that he has “a staff now just to fight back firing and boycotts.”

“There has never been a time 30 years radio 22 on Fox where I felt a bullseye at my head every single day. It’s an attempted kill shot a day,” Hannity wrote. “And Paul, like u, I don’t give a shit about me. I do care about this amazing country that is soooo sooo off course and experience unreal corruption.”

And the Fox News host offered some insight into his relationship with Trump.

“Brutally honest relationship. And I say it all on air,” Hannity said of the president.

“To be honest. The left may win and get me fired at some point,” he continued. “But I don’t give a shit. I’ll get 2 Dixie cups and talk to myself.”

Hannity and Manafort also expressed sympathy for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired early on in the Trump administration and indicted by Mueller in 2017 for lying to investigators. Hannity thanked Flynn for his service to the country in August 2017, ahead of Flynn's indictment.

Hannity and Manafort also appeared to try and find ways for the ex-Trump campaign head and his attorney to appear on the Fox News program, but struggled to work around a gag order on Manafort’s case.

The messages show that Manafort connected Hannity with his lawyer, Kevin Downing, in early 2018. When Manafort asked how the call went, Hannity replied, “Good. I asked him to feed me everyday.”

Manafort and Hannity repeatedly deride one of Mueller’s lead prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, in the exchanges. Hannity at one point calls Weissmann a “piece of shit” and says he should be dismissed from the team, citing a book written by conservative legal commentator Sidney Powell.

In one February 2018 message, Manafort describes Mueller’s prosecutors as a group of “self [righteous] criminals.” Manafort also says that the special counsel’s office wanted him to “give up DT” -- an apparent reference to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE -- and his family.

“They would want me to give up Dt or family, esp JK. I would never do that,” reads one message, which also appears to reference Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerOn The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies White House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment MORE. Manafort later said they “did nothing” but that Mueller’s team “will want me to make shit up on both.”

Mueller charged Manafort and his one-time business partner Richard Gates with financial crimes and other charges related to their lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine in October 2017.

Gates, who also worked on the Trump campaign, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller’s investigation shortly after further charges were unsealed against him and Manafort in February –– an occurrence that caught Manafort off guard, according to the messages released Friday.

Five days before Gates pleaded guilty, Hannity sent Manafort an article suggesting that the plea was imminent. Manafort responded by saying it was “not true” and blamed the article on a leak from the special counsel’s office.

The flurry of messages were originally filed under seal as an attachment to the government’s February sentencing memo detailing Mueller’s objection to the presentence report in Manafort’s case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the judge overseeing Manafort’s case, ordered them released on Friday.

Manafort was sentenced to a combined total of 7.5 years in prison for crimes he was convicted of in Alexandra, Va., and pleaded guilty to in Washington, D.C. The former Trump campaign chairman is currently serving out his sentence in a federal prison in Manhattan.

Mueller concluded his investigation into Russian interference in March and recently vacated his position at the Justice Department.

His final report, released by the department in mid-April, details various contacts between Manafort and other associates of the Trump campaign and Russia-linked figures. Mueller did not charge anyone associated with the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election.

Updated: 6:50 p.m.