Manafort Says Mueller Filing on Plea Breach Shows No Lies

This courtroom sketch depicts Paul Manafort, fourth from right, standing with his lawyers in front of U.S. district Judge T.S. Ellis III, center rear, and the selected jury, seated left, during the jury selection of his trial at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, July 31, 2018. A jury set to decide the fate of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Manafort was selected Tuesday, and opening statements in his tax evasion and bank fraud trial were expected in the afternoon. (Dana Verkouteren via AP)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Denying allegations that he lied to U.S. investigators in breach of his plea deal, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort said Wednesday any alleged misstatements were nothing more than momentary slips while trying to remember a highly stressful and busy time in his life.

“Rather, when placed in proper context, much of the evidence presented by the [Office of Special Counsel] merely demonstrates a lack of consistency in Mr. Manafort’s recollection of certain facts and events,” a 10-page filing for the incarcerated former lobbyist states. “Indeed, many of these events occurred years ago, or during a high-pressure U.S. presidential campaign he managed when his time was extraordinarily limited, or during the difficult time that followed his departure from the 2016 presidential campaign because of the allegations leveled at him and the investigations that followed.”

Manafort’s filing comes in response to new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller about why his office accused Manafort of breaching his plea deal. Mueller’s document, though heavily redacted, details Manafort’s misstatements to investigators about his financial dealings, interactions with an accused Russian spy and contacts with the Trump administration.

Manafort’s filing too is heavily redacted, obscuring some key points of context behind thick black bars. But in the parts revealed to the public, Manafort says nothing Mueller put forward last week shows he lied across 12 meetings with the Special Counsel’s Office and two appearances before a grand jury.

One of Mueller’s core contentions is that Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration, even telling one person he could drop Manafort’s name if the person was able to meet with Trump one on one.

But Manafort said Wednesday the evidence Mueller’s office references does not show he tried to interact with the administration. Manafort also says he was forthcoming in another instance in which Mueller’s team accused him of lying, though the exact subject is redacted.

Manafort also says he was upfront about his interactions with accused Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik, saying Mueller’s team conflated two separate issues during interviews. He says Mueller additionally accused him of lying about a meeting, the nature of which is redacted, even though Manafort corrected himself when he had more time to think about the issue.

“Mr. Manafort’s failure of memory is not akin to a false statement and he willingly provided information once he recalled the meeting,” the filing states.

Manafort makes a similar defense against Mueller’s claim that he lied about an unnamed separate Department of Justice investigation, saying he corrected himself almost immediately after having his defense team refreshed his memory on the topic.

The least redacted part of the document concerns a $125,000 payment Manafort made to an unknown recipient. Manafort says he did not lie about the nature of the payment, noting he reported it on his tax filings as income. 

“At bottom, then, there was no attempt to conceal the payment or the source on the income tax return he filed with the government and he ultimately chose to report the payment as income – the most tax disadvantageous manner in which it could have been handled,” the filing states.

Following his plea in August to eight counts of tax and bank fraud in Virginia, Manafort pleaded guilty the next month to separate charges in Washington, D.C. 

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