Just one day after we found out that FBI agents ‘raided’ former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Alexandria home on July 26th, we learn that Special Counsel Mueller has also been going after Manafort’s family in order gather dirt on a person they clearly view as a material witness. According to Politico’s anonymous sources (and you know what that means), Manafort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, was approached earlier this summer regarding his “business deals” with Manafort.
Federal investigators sought cooperation from Paul Manafort’s son-in-law in an effort to increase pressure on President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, according to three people familiar with the probe.
Investigators approached Jeffrey Yohai, who has partnered in business deals with Manafort, earlier this summer, setting off “real waves” in Manafort’s orbit, one of these people said. Another of these people said investigators are trying to get “into Manafort’s head.”
Manafort, who is a focus of the broad federal and congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, is also under investigation for his business and real estate transactions, including some that involve Yohai.
As Politico notes, Mueller’s targeting of both Manafort and his son-in-law over potential criminal wrongdoing is a common tactic employed in white-collar cases, commonly called “climbing the ladder.” The strategy, more or less, entails digging up whatever dirt can be found on those in Trump’s orbit and then using that dirt to coerce potential witnesses into cooperation.
“Manafort is — on many levels — a key subject of the investigation and someone who might be leveraged to share information about others,” said one Washington-based white-collar attorney with a client involved in the Russia probe.
The approach involves finding a suspected crime — false statements on tax returns or loan applications, for example — and then offering leniency on prosecution in exchange for cooperation. “They always start with the people on the low end of the ladder and try to get information on someone high up on the ladder,” said William Jeffress, a white-collar attorney who represented Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in the President George W. Bush-era Valerie Plame leak investigation.
Mueller would clearly have jurisdiction over any real estate dealings between Yohai, Manafort and Russians, Jeffress said. In addition, he could press Yohai for details on what he knows about Manafort’s role in the campaign.
Of course, these new revelations come just one day after WaPo reported that FBI agents “raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials.” Federal agents reportedly appeared at
Manafort’s home without advance warning two weeks ago, in the predawn hours on Wednesday, July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee. The WaPo reported that the served search warrant was “wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records.”
The raid came as Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.
It could also have been intended to send a message to President Trump’s former campaign chairman that he should not expect gentle treatment or legal courtesies from Mueller’s team.
Meanwhile, in case Yohai’s name sounds familiar, it might be because he was recently sued by actor Dustin Hoffman after an LA real estate JV between the two went sour. Here’s more from the LA Times:
It is the most famous street in one of Los Angeles’ most coveted neighborhoods.
High up in the hills above the Sunset Strip, Blue Jay Way is home to several A-list celebrities who enjoy panoramic views from glassy estates that can cost $10 million or more.
But a property on Blue Jay Way is now at the center of legal proceedings involving actor Dustin Hoffman and Jeffrey Yohai, a real estate developer who is the son-in-law of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“The Graduate” actor and his son Jacob Hoffman invested $3 million with Yohai, who planned to raze a modest home on the street and build a $30-million mansion in its place, according to real estate records and Bankruptcy Court documents.
The deal has foundered as companies owning four of Yohai’s L.A.-area residential properties each went into foreclosure and then bankruptcy last year, including the Blue Jay Way parcel in the Bird Streets neighborhood. He’s also fighting a lawsuit in New York from an investor who alleges that he operated a Ponzi scheme. Yohai, 35, said in a filing that the allegations are fabrications.
All of which finally confirms our long-held suspicions that Dustin Hoffman is an undercover Russian spy. Nice try going ‘full retard’ with Rain Man in ’88, but we’re on to you Dusty…