A document by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's attorneys appear to have accidentally filed in court Wednesday suggests that federal investigators had an informant inside Manafort's consulting firm who provided information about his financial dealings.
The one-page memo submitted along with a routine scheduling motion seems to have been prepared by a defense lawyer or investigator trying to assemble information that could support a claim by Manafort's defense of improper contacts between the prosecution team—now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller—and the media.
The document, titled "DOJ, OSC and the Press," says that a reporter appeared to have obtained access to internal documents from the firm founded by Manafort, Davis Manafort Partners International.
The memo indicates that an affidavit for a seizure warrant obtained by prosecutors on the same day Manafort was indicted in October says that a Davis Manafort staffer acknowledged allowing a journalist to look at the firm's digital records.
"In the Winter of 2017 (sic 2016) employee of DMI—CS-1 permitted the reporter to view material on a hard drive copy of DMI's electronic files," the document says, using a standard FBI acronym for a confidential source. "Government obtained warrant for the hard drive."
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni had no comment on the memo. Manafort's lead defense attorney, Kevin Downing, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
A spokesman for Mueller's office declined to comment. On October 27, 2017, Manafort and one of his key associates at DMI, Rick Gates, were indicted on charges including money laundering and failing to register as foreign lobbyists for their Ukraine-related work. Both men entered not guilty pleas. No trial date has been set.
The memo doesn't name any reporter, but it mentions the Associated Press and cites an April 12, 2017 AP story that said DMI's records confirmed receipt of some alleged payments to Manafort discovered in a so-called "black ledger" obtained by Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators.
"Financial records newly obtained by The Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his U.S. consulting firm," said the story, published under a joint byline by reporters Jack Gillum, Chad Day, and Jeff Horwitz.
Citing the same seizure warrant affidavit, the notes filed by Manafort's defense team also relates that the Associated Press gave Maloni copies of two memos Manafort wrote to a Ukranian oligarch in 2005 about work for Ukraine's Party of Regions. The defense filing suggests the memos came from the one of the reporters who wrote the April 12 AP story.