Associated Press reporters asked the FBI and Justice Department for a meeting in April 2017, hoping to find out whether their reporting on President Trump’s former campaign chairman was on the right track.
But it was the AP reporters who would shape the FBI’s investigation, an agent would later testify, when they disclosed the existence of a storage locker used by Paul Manafort.
Roughly a month after the meeting, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the locker, seizing 30 years’ worth of financial documents that would become the backbone of the government’s current prosecution of Mr. Manafort in two different courtrooms.
Conservative media-watchdog groups say the meeting illuminates a cozy relationship between news outlets they perceive as having an anti-Trump bias and Justice Department, which has been besieged by accusations of political partisanship.
“This is a lapse of journalistic ethics,” said Don Irvine, chairman of Accuracy in Media. “It looks like The Associated Press is cooperating with the investigation and pushing this information to get Manafort so it could get to Trump.”