Spurred by investigative journalist John Solomon’s bombshell report in the Hill Tuesday, Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), a senior Republican on the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, is reportedly preparing a referral for Inspector General Michael Horowitz. According to Solomon on Twitter Wednesday night, Meadows is asking the IG to investigate the FBI and the special counsel’s handling of the warrants on Paul Manafort, as well as their contacts with the media and reliance on the sketchy “black ledger.”
Breaking:: @RepMarkMeadows preparing referral asking IG to investigate FBI and Mueller’s handling of Manafort warrants, contacts with media and reliance on suspect black ledger evidence. Just updated this story. https://t.co/GuWb9d1oz5
— John Solomon (@jsolomonReports) June 20, 2019
The FBI relied on the suspect ledger to obtain search warrants in 2017 for bank records proving he worked for a Russian-backed party in Ukraine–even though “the feds were warned repeatedly that the document couldn’t be trusted and likely was a fake,” according to Solomon.
For example, Ukraine’s top anticorruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, told me he warned the U.S. State Department’s law enforcement liaison and multiple FBI agents in late summer 2016 that Ukrainian authorities who recovered the ledger believed it likely was a fraud.
“It was not to be considered a document of Manafort. It was not authenticated. And at that time it should not be used in any way to bring accusations against anybody,” Kholodnytsky said, recalling what he told FBI agents.
Likewise, Manafort’s Ukrainian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, a regular informer for the State Department, told the U.S. government almost immediately after The New York Times wrote about the ledger in August 2016 that the document probably was fake.
Manafort “could not have possibly taken large amounts of cash across three borders. It was always a different arrangement — payments were in wire transfers to his companies, which is not a violation,” Kilimnik wrote in an email to a senior U.S. official on Aug. 22, 2016.
He added: “I have some questions about this black cash stuff, because those published records do not make sense. The timeframe doesn’t match anything related to payments made to Manafort. … It does not match my records. All fees Manafort got were wires, not cash.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the FBI were given copies of Kilimnik’s warning, according to three sources familiar with the documents.
In May of 2018, Manafort alleged in a court filing that lead special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann (dubbed Mueller’s “Pit Bull” in the New York Times) leaked details about the Russia probe during a meeting with four journalists from the AP on April 11, 2017 — ONE day before they published a story on Manafort. An FBI record confirms that an “off the record” meeting indeed took place and that the AP reporters “were advised that they appeared to have a good understanding of Manafort’s business dealings” in Ukraine.
Incredibly, the FBI went on to cite the AP article about the ledger as evidence Manafort was paid to perform U.S. lobbying work for the Ukrainians to obtain a search warrant for Manafort’s bank records.
Essentially, Solomon explained, “the FBI cited a leak that the government had facilitated and then used it to support the black ledger evidence, even though it had been clearly warned about the document.”
Knowing they couldn’t use the fake ledger itself because it would have to be vetted, they cited the AP report about the “black cash ledger.”
In an update to his post Wednesday night, Solomon reported that Meadows told him “he is asking the Justice Department inspector general to investigate the FBI and prosecutors’ handling of the Manafort warrants, including any media leaks and evidence that the government knew the black ledger was potentially unreliable or suspect evidence.”
Earlier this month, Meadows told FNC’s Maria Bartiromo that the the reason the long-anticipated DOJ inspector general’s report on the FBI and DOJ’s handling of the Russia investigation is taking so long, is because additional information keeps coming out that needs to be investigated. The report, which was expected to come out as early as late last month, is not coming out this month either, it appears.
“One of the reasons for that is additional information has been given to the inspector general for them to investigate,” he explained. “But I believe based on the documents I’ve seen, that crimes were committed and people need to go to jail.”
(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)