Two FBI memos obtained by the legal team of President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, appear to indicate that Justice Department officials exchanged information about their probe with Associated Press reporters, Politico reports. While Manafort's lawyers are attempting to argue that the reporters were leaked information about the investigation during the April 2017 meeting, violating Justice Department policies and possibly the law, the AP reporters also apparently gave the FBI information in return — including the access code for a storage unit where Manafort kept records of his business dealings.
Manafort has been accused of financial crimes, like conspiracy to launder money, as well as conspiracy against the United States. He was jailed in June 2018 over witness tampering, and is now reportedly in solitary confinement at a jail in Virginia.
Both of the FBI memos claim that investigators learned the access code for Manafort's storage unit from the reporters, although one memo said the reporters did not share the number or location of the storage unit. One of the memos' authors, Jeff Pfeiffer, has testified that the information from the reporters possibly led to their discovery of the locker.
An Associated Press spokeswoman has said that the journalists "met with representatives from the Department of Justice in an effort to get information on stories they were reporting, as reporters do." Others have emphasized skepticism around each side's version of events: "Generally speaking, skepticism is warranted when it comes to self-reporting by both the FBI and news outlets about their interactions," University of Maryland journalism professor Mark Feldstein told Politico. "Neither side is supposed to share confidential information with the other, but in fact each often does — perhaps to seek corroboration, perhaps to get other confidential information back in exchange, or perhaps to spur on the other side's investigation."