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FILE PHOTO: Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S., June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Sarah N. Lynch and Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI agents seized documents and other material last month at the Virginia home of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, as part of a special counsel's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a spokesman for Manafort said on Wednesday.
The predawn raid was conducted at Manafort's home in the Washington suburb of Alexandria without advance warning on July 26, a day after Manafort had met with Senate Intelligence Committee staff members, the Washington Post reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the probe.
The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with Robert Mueller, the special counsel named by the U.S. Justice Department in May to head the investigation, departed the home with various records, the Post said. Investigators were looking for tax documents and foreign banking records, the New York Times reported.
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni confirmed the raid had taken place.
"FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort's residences. Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well," Maloni said in an email.
The raid was the latest indication of the intensifying of Mueller's probe, which Trump has derided as a "witch hunt." Allegations of possible collusion between people associated with Trump's campaign and Moscow have dogged the Republican president since he took office in January.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the presidential race, in part by hacking and releasing emails embarrassing to Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, to help him get elected.
Manafort has been a key figure in the congressional and federal investigations into the matter. Mueller's team is examining money-laundering accusations against Manafort, poring over his financial and real estate records in New York as well as his involvement in Ukrainian politics, two officials told Reuters last month.
Congressional committees are looking at a June 2016 meeting in New York with a Russian lawyer organised by Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who released emails last month that showed he welcomed the prospect of receiving damaging information about Clinton at the meeting. Manafort attended the meeting.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately return a request for comment on the raid. Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for Mueller's office, declined to confirm the raid.
Manafort has been cooperating with the congressional committees in their Russia probes, meeting with staff members behind closed doors and turning over documents. He also has been in talks with them about testifying publicly.
He met with investigators from Senate Intelligence Committee staff last month and has been negotiating an appearance before the Judiciary Committee.
Committee leaders said they wanted to discuss not just the campaign, but also Manafort's political work on behalf of interests in Ukraine. Russia's aggression in Ukraine was one reason the U.S. Congress defied Trump and passed new sanctions on Russia last month.
Manafort previously worked as a consultant to a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and helped support the country's Kremlin-backed former leader, Viktor Yanukovich. According to a financial audit reported by the New York Times, he also once owed $17 million to Russian shell companies.
A Senate Judiciary Committee aide said the panel on Aug. 2 received approximately 20,000 pages of documents from Trump's presidential campaign that it requested for its own Russia investigation, as well as about 400 pages of documents from Manafort the same day.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham)