"Personal Gestapo," "witness intimidation," and "a witch hunt": How pro-Trump media reacted to the Manafort raid
Research ››› ››› KATHERINE HESS
After President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was issued a search warrant regarding the Russia investigation, pro-Trump media -- including Fox personalities, fringe blogs, neo-Nazi sites, and fake news purveyors -- lashed out, stating that it was “not about Trump,” and insisted that this was a witch hunt and another attempt to undermine the 2016 presidential election. Others claimed the FBI was acting as “someone’s personal Gestapo,” and that the raid was a form of “witness intimidation.”
FBI agents conducted a raid of former Trump campaign chairman’s home
FBI agents raid former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home seeking documents for Russia probe. On August 9, The Washington Post broke the news that FBI agents had “raided the home” of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort “in the pre-dawn hours” on July 26. The raid occurred the day after Manafort met with investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee. According to the Post, “The search warrant requested documents related to tax, banking and other matters,” and “people familiar with the search said agents departed the Manafort residence with a trove of material.” The Post also noted that “to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant, prosecutors must show that there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.” [The Washington Post, 8/9/17]
Pro-Trump media lash out after the news, calling the raid “personal,” “witness intimidation,” and a “witch hunt”
Fox’s Jon Scott: "Some might call” the FBI's raid of Paul Manafort's house “witness intimidation.” On Fox News, host Jon Scott questioned why the FBI decided to raid Manafort’s house and claimed that "some might call it, I don't know, witness intimidation." The Heritage Foundation's Hans Von Spakovsky stated that he had a “bad suspicion that this is part of [special counsel Robert] Mueller's shock and awe to get back at critics of him.” From the August 9 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
JON SCOTT (HOST): A Fox News alert, as we learned, the president's former campaign manager reportedly was the target of an FBI raid. According to The Washington Post, FBI agents showed up at Paul Manafort's home late last month, seizing documents and other materials related to the ongoing Russia investigations. This as congressional committees delve deeper and, according to Bloomberg's headline today, demand thousands of documents from the Trump campaign. Joining us now, Hans Von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. John Flannery is a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York and former special counsel to the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Thanks very much for being here. John, Paul Manafort says he was cooperating. In fact, he had been testifying in front of a committee. Why send FBI agents to raid his house when he says he was handing over everything?
JOHN FLANNERY: Because they obviously didn't think he was, and they convinced the judge that they had reason to search his house for documents I assume that they didn't find in the productions made to that date. And I think it was about a month before the search he had revised his identification as an agent for a foreign government, and the $17.1 million that he got spread over several years from the foreign government appears to have been spread among a Potemkin village of LLCs and corporations. So, like every good investigation, you follow the money, and that's what I think they were doing here.
SCOTT: Well, Hans, some might call it, I don't know, witness intimidation. [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/9/17]
Fox regular Tony Shaffer: The FBI is being used as a "personal Gestapo" against the Trump administration. Comparing the FBI to the Gestapo, the secret state police of Nazi Germany, Fox regular Tony Shaffer slammed the raid and suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions needed to be “a lot more aggressive in actually clearing things out.” From the August 9 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight:
TONY SHAFFER: This is where again the leadership needs to pick up. President Trump deserves a Senate, committees which will do the right thing. The other thing you and I've talked about here is Jeff Sessions. I think Jeff Sessions needs to be a lot more aggressive in actually clearing things out.
And of course, you were talking earlier a little bit about the Paul Manafort raid and some of the issues which have happened to him. Look, I'd like to see, Lou, the probable cause statement of that document that some judge signed off on.
We cannot permit the continued use of the FBI as someone's personal Gestapo. And that's what I am seeing here. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 8/9/17]
The Gateway Pundit: “WITCH HUNT: FBI Conducted Predawn Raid of Paul Manafort’s Home.” The Gateway Pundit called the raid a “witch hunt … against Trump,” parroting Trump’s characterization of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The article also stated, “Mueller’s relationship with former FBI Director James Comey along with him building a team of pro-Hillary Clinton investigators simply cannot be ignored.” From the August 9 article (emphasis original):
From day one, the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel prompted major red flags. Mueller’s relationship with former FBI Director James Comey along with him building a team of pro-Hillary Clinton investigators simply cannot be ignored.
Reuters is now reporting that two anonymous sources (no surprise there), say investigators are plotting to flip Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to use as leverage against President Trump.
The Gateway Pundit recently reported nearly 100 percent of Robert Mueller’s law firm donated to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and it’s important to note that Manafort played an important role in defeating such campaign.
Robert Mueller cannot be trusted, according to former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who told Fox News Friday that the Special Counsel’s law firm made 99.81% of its presidential campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton. [The Gateway Pundit, 8/9/17]
Infowars: “This fishing expedition into whether Manafort had an undisclosed foreign bank account shows how little Mueller’s actually got.” The conspiracy theory-pushing website Infowars claimed that political bias is coloring the Russia investigation and that the FBI’s raid was one of many examples of how “the feds can indict a ham sandwich.” The post suggested that the Mueller’s team is “clearly gunning to take down Trump and overturn our election by any means necessary.” From the August 10 article:
Mueller was supposed to be investigating Russian collusion. The money Manafort reportedly received from Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska for work in the Ukraine was given from around 2006 to 2012. It has nothing to do with the 2016 election where Manafort was briefly was hired by Trump to secure delegates as the Republican establishment was conspiring to steal them.
This fishing expedition into whether Manafort had an undisclosed foreign bank account shows how little Mueller’s actually got. That said, the feds can indict a ham sandwich, and they’re clearly gunning to take down Trump and overturn our election by any means necessary. [Infowars, 8/10/17]
Infostormer: “This appears to be part of a continued effort to nullify the results of the 2016 election.” The neo-Nazi website stated that “there’s been no proof of any crimes committed,” calling the entire investigation a “kookspiracy.” From the August 9 article:
WTF is the purpose of this? A pre-dawn raid on Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort?
Are they trying to prove that Manafort is a KGB asset? This appears to be part of a continued effort to nullify the results of the 2016 election.
There isn’t even any hard proof that the Russians hacked the Democrat’s e-mail server.
And that’s where all this insanity about Russia kookspiracy’s stemmed from.
Why isn’t the FBI raiding John Podesta and all the criminals associated with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? Far more evidence that they committed high crimes. [Infostormer, 8/9/17; Media Matters, 9/20/16]
Daily Stormer: Raid “has to be grounds upon which to dissolve this witch hunt council.” Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer wrote that the raid was a “Soviet-style” raid and questioned whether this was “real life.” The post also claimed that it was part of an attempt to get rid of Trump by ripping “his throat out with this Russian hoax nonsense.” From the August 9 post:
This just got kicked up into a whole other realm.
I’m a little bit shocked.
This has to be grounds upon which to dissolve this witch hunt council. Surely.
We’ve entered the Twilight Zone.
Soviet-style pre-dawn raids.
How is this real life?
More than that, it is an attempt to depose the leader chosen by the people to run this country. The same leader who is winning left and right, despite the fact that they are attempting to rip his throat out with this Russian hoax nonsense. [Daily Stormer, 8/9/17; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 8/9/17]
Fake news purveyor Right Alerts: Raid is “under the guise of the faux Russia collusion story.” Right Alerts, a website that peddles fake news, claimed that the warrant to search Manafort’s home was a sign that Mueller was “stepping up his investigation into all things related to President Trump’s life, “under the guise of the faux Russia collusion story.” From the August 9 post:
Special counsel Robert Mueller is stepping up his investigation into all things related to President Trump’s life, under the guise of the faux Russia collusion story.
The latest aggressive move occurred in July when, without warning, the FBI obtained a search warrant and raided former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandria, VA. [Right Alerts, 8/9/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Fake news purveyor TruthFeed: Raid shows the “phony Russia probe is really turning into a bonafide witch-hunt.” Fake news purveyor Truthfeed called the probe “phony” and a “witch hunt.” The post also stated that liberals are “not held accountable” for their “actions and crimes.” From the August 9 post:
The phony Russia probe is really turning into a bonafide witch-hunt as FBI officials RAIDED the home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Of course, Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Obama, and James Comey’s homes remain perfectly in tact.
Because liberals are not held accountable for their actions and crimes, while fake crimes and scandals plague conservatives.
Fake news purveyor America’s Freedom Fighters: Raid was part of “Mueller’s continued witch hunt for so-called Russian meddling.” America’s Freedom Fighters stated that the raid on Manafort home is because he is now the focus of Mueller’s “witch hunt” into the “so-called” Russian collusion. From the August 9 post:
According to yet another “bombshell” by the Washington ComPost, we are now finding out that in this quest for “proof” of so-called Russian collusion, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home was raided late last month.
It is believed that federal agents may have obtained the search warrant on the grounds that Manafort would not or had not turned over all relevant information for the grand jury subpoena. Manafort has become the current central focus of Mueller’s continued witch hunt for so-called Russian meddling in the Presidential election granting President Trump a victory over the elite globalist favorite, Hillary Clinton. [America’s Freedom Fighters, 8/9/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Other pro-Trump media used the raid to distance Trump from Manafort, claiming the Russia investigation is “not about Trump”
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera: “It's not about Trump, it's about Manafort.” Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera claimed that the FBI’s focus on Manafort’s banking records indicates that “Manafort is the target, not Russia gate or President Trump.” He went on to suggest, “It’s not about Trump, it’s about Manafort.” From the August 9 episode of Fox News’ Hannity:
GERALDO RIVERA: The good news for President Trump is that Manafort is now forced to turn over, or they seized, his tax and banking records. Which is an indication, Sean, that Manafort is the target, not Russia-gate or President Trump. He got millions from the Russian-oriented Ukraine government over the years before he was the campaign manager. It looks like they are wondering or they are inquiring or they are probing whether he hid millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts. It's not about Trump, it's about Manafort. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/9/17]
Fox’s Katie Pavlich: Raid has to do with Manafort, “I’m not so sure they’ll even find a connection to the president.” Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich posited that “there’s a big separation between what’s happening in the investigation with Paul Manafort,” adding, “I’m not so sure they’ll even find a connection to the president.” She went on to add, “I think this raid absolutely has to do with Paul Manafort and his personal problems.” From the August 9 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered.
KATIE PAVLICH (CO-HOST): I think that there’s a big separation between what’s happening in the investigation with Paul Manafort -- he's been dirty dealing in Eastern Europe and Ukraine and Russia for a very long time, I'm not so sure they’ll even find a connection to the president. They’ll have to use him as leverage because the White House has repeatedly said, Trump's counsel has repeatedly said, there's nothing there. I think this raid absolutely has to do with Paul Manafort and his personal problems. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/9/17]
Fox’s Andrew Napolitano: FBI “may very well have been looking for something totally independent of Manafort’s relationship to the president.” During the August 10 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano tried to distance the raid from Trump by claiming the FBI “may very well have been looking for something totally independent of Manafort’s relationship to the president.” Co-host Ainsley Earhardt seemingly agreed, replying “it could have been personal.” From the show:
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: It’s a great question. They may very well have been looking for something totally independent of Manafort's relationship to the president.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (HOST): It could have been personal.
NAPOLITANO: It could have been personal. It could have been his taxes. It could have been, was he being paid money by a foreign power at a time that he wasn't registered as a foreign agent. Because the modus operandi of the way of doing things -- of the FBI is often to indict a person who is involved with some bigger person looking for on an unrelated matter and then get him to flip as a state witness. They may have done this to General Flynn and we don't know about it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/10/17]
Fake news purveyor Right Wing News: “I have thought he was guilty of colluding with the Russians since the beginning. But I don’t believe President Trump did.” Fake news purveyor Right Wing News published a post that claimed, “I have thought he was guilty of colluding with the Russians since the beginning. But I don’t believe President Trump did.” Later, the author stated that, “Trump has distanced himself from Manafort as he should.” From the August 9 post:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller had the FBI execute a search warrant against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in late July. He was home at the time. They also raided another home of his in the Hamptons earlier this summer. As Andrew McCarthy says, “Prosecutors don’t do pre-dawn raids on the home of a cooperating witness.” Manafort has appeared to cooperate with the FBI in public, but that may not be the whole story. I have thought he was guilty of colluding with the Russians since the beginning. But I don’t believe President Trump did. Manafort looks to be a plant and he took millions from the Russians. Trump was right to let him go.
This could simply be a fishing expedition or they may have something on Manafort. There is no way to know at this point. Trump has distanced himself from Manafort as he should. But as McCarthy asks, “I wonder whether the deputy attorney general or the special counsel would inform the public whether the president of the United States is a suspect in a criminal investigation.” Good question. [Right Wing News, 8/9/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
- Posted In
- National Security & Foreign Policy
- Fox News Channel, The Washington Post, Gateway Pundit, Infowars
- Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, Jon Scott, Hans von Spakovsky, Tony Shaffer, Lou Dobbs, Robert Mueller, James Comey, Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton, Geraldo Rivera, Sean Hannity, Katie Pavlich, Andrew Napolitano
- The Washington Post, Fox News Network, Gateway Pundit, Infowars, Infostormer, The Daily Stormer, The Sean Hannity Show, FOX & Friends
- Trump / Russia