U.S. media are reporting that federal investigators have wiretapped President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders and now plan to indict him.
According to The New York Times, which cited two people it said were close to the case, U.S. agents informed Manafort on September 18 that they planned to indict him when they raided his home in Virginia in July.
CNN, citing anonymous sources, reported the same day that investigators had a secret order to wiretap Manafort both before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Manafort is one of several close Trump advisers who are now being investigated by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of alleged Russian interference in the election.
Manafort became Trump's campaign manager in June 2016 but was forced to resign two months later after reports of his business relationship with the party of Ukraine's former Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort and his attorneys did not immediately respond to the reports.
CNN said the secret court that oversees warrant requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act issued warrants to wiretap Manafort starting in 2016 before the election.
Such warrants require the approval of top FBI and Justice Department officials, and law enforcement has to demonstrate to the court that there is reason to believe the subject of the investigation may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
CNN said interest in Manafort deepened because of intercepted communications between him and Russian operatives, and among the Russians.
It said the government eavesdropping continued into 2017, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to Trump after he became president. CNN said it was unclear if Trump was picked up on the surveillance.
CNN said the FBI was not listening in June 2016 when the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., Manafort, and top White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is also the president's son-in-law, met with a Russian lawyer who had promised to deliver negative information on Trump's rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
With reporting by Reuters, CNN, dpa, and New York Times