Judge Finds Manafort Lied During Russian Probe

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge ruled late Wednesday that Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, violated his plea deal with the special counsel’s office probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Following a closed hearing hours earlier, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said prosecutors successfully established Manafort lied to investigators about his communication with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political operative.

The Department of Justice believes Kilimnik is tied to Russian intelligence agencies.

A transcript of a sealed hearing from last week shows that prosecutors focused on an Aug. 2, 2016, meeting between Manafort, his campaign deputy Rick Gates and Kilimnik.

The meeting took place “at an unusual time” for the head of a presidential campaign, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said, according to the transcript.

“That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the special counsel,” Weissmann added.

Prosecutors contended Manafort lied about the meeting, which took place at the Grand Havana Room in New York City, not far from the Trump campaign’s headquarters at Trump Tower.

Less than two weeks prior to the meeting, Trump had secured the Republican nomination, and WikiLeaks had published thousands of emails Russian hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee.

But Jackson found the special counsel didn’t prove whether Manafort intentionally made false statements about Kilimnik’s role related to an obstruction of justice charge the former campaign manager pleaded guilty to last year.

And the judge ruled the special counsel’s office was unable to prove Manafort lied about his contacts within the Trump administration.

Based upon the review of the entire record, however, Jackson found Manafort “made false statements and thereby breached the plea agreement in good faith.”

She added: “Therefore, the Office of Special Counsel is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of the U.S. sentencing guidelines for acceptance of responsibility.”

The order does not establish how Manafort’s sentencing will be affected at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where Manafort was convicted on eight charges of bank and tax fraud this past August.

Last month, Judge T.S. Ellis III said he would not move ahead with Manafort’s sentencing until the case in Jackson’s court is complete.

Jackson’s order also does not address whether Manafort will receive credit toward his sentence for accepting any responsibility for his crimes in Washington.

%d bloggers like this: