Manafort Wants Evidence Suppressed

Manafort Wants Evidence Suppressed April 9, 2018

Since he can’t get the charges against him dismissed, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is now trying to get a bunch of evidence seized by the FBI from a storage locker, mostly legal and financial records, ruled inadmissible by the judge.

Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are arguing that what could be key evidence against him should be kept out of court because the FBI violated his Constitutional rights by illegally entering a storage locker belonging to Manafort’s firm.

The FBI first got into the Alexandria, Va. storage unit last May with the assistance of an employee who worked at two or more of Manafort’s companies, an agent told the federal magistrate judge who issued the warrant. Then, the agent used what he saw written on so-called Banker’s Boxes and the fact there was a five-drawer filing cabinet to get permission to return and seize many of the records.

In a motion filed Friday night in federal court in Washington, Manafort’s defense team contends that the initial entry was illegal because the employee did not not have authority to let the FBI into the locker. The defense also argues that the warrant was overbroad and that agents seizing records went beyond what limits the warrant did set.

This is very unlikely to succeed. The key Supreme Court ruling here is Fernandez v California (2014). It wasn’t directly on point, but it’s close enough to matter here. In that case, the court ruled that the police can do a warrantless search targeting one person if another person, the roommate in this instance, gives them entry. But in the Manafort case, they did subsequently get a warrant based on what was seen in the initial entry in the storage locker.

There is also a pretty clear distinction between a roommate and an employee and it doesn’t help Manafort’s case. IF the employee has access to that storage locker and gives the FBI access to it without a warrant, there is no reason for them to think he did not have the authorization to do so. The fact that Manafort may wish they hadn’t does not change that.

And of course, it should be obvious that there is something in those records that Manafort is very afraid of, something that shows that he did something illegal.

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