How Can Mueller Flip Manafort? Bankruptcies and Former Son-in-Law Might Be Way In, Report Says

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves Federal Court on December 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. AFP via Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski

Over several months, Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman to President Donald Trump, has resisted and challenged Special Counsel Robert Mueller's litany of charges and apparent attempts to get him to cooperate in an investigation into Russian election meddling.

But the special counsel may have found further avenues to pursue Manafort. Mueller's team has looked into bankruptcies filed in Los Angeles and Manafort's former son-in-law and business partner, Jeffery Yohai, Reuters reported Monday.

"It's all about increasing pressure on Manafort to cooperate," Frank Figliuzzi, who worked as FBI assistant director of counterintelligence under Mueller until 2012, told Reuters.

Mueller's team has looked into Yohai, who worked with Manafort on four California properties that were eventually placed in bankruptcy. The issue at hand is the loan Manafort received in early 2017 on a home in Brooklyn from Genesis Capital LLC.

Genesis is now owned by Goldman Sachs, which was the main creditor on the four bankrupt properties.

However, Genesis, Manafort and the attorney representing the bankrupted properties had not disclosed the loan to the bankruptcy court. Manafort used the loan for a $6.8 million refinancing of the Brooklyn home, while Genesis got to put one of the bankrupted properties up for sale.

Knowingly failing to disclose an asset or financial transaction that could affect a bankruptcy is potentially a federal charge of bankruptcy fraud.

All sides involved told Reuters that they had no obligation to disclose the loan.

The Justice Department, in a separate investigation in November, looked into reaching a plea deal with Yohai over the properties, according to The Wall Street Journal. But Yohai had not been charged with any crime, making it unclear which one or ones he would plead to.

Mueller has upped the pressure on Manafort in the last week. The special counsel filed a new 32-count indictment against the longtime government lobbyist and his former partner, Rick Gates, in Virginia on Thursday, on top of the 12-count indictment filed in Washington in October.

Gates reached a plea deal with the Russia probe and agreed to cooperate Friday, and hours later Mueller again struck Manafort with a fresh five-count indictment that included charges of money-laundering and conspiracy.

After Gates' plea was made public, Manafort questioned his former business partner on why he would not continue to fight the charges.