Manafort Trial to Tip New Details on His Knowledge of Foreign Agent Rules

WASHINGTON (CN) – Prosecutors with the special counsel’s office said Wednesday they intend to introduce additional evidence during the trial of President Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort in Washington, D.C., that will show he knew about foreign agent registration requirements.

According to prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, that evidence pertains to lobbying work he did between 1984 and 1986 for the Saudi Arabian government, which drew the attention of the Department of Justice and prompted an inspection of his filings in 1986.

“Evidence from these inspections is relevant to Manafort’s knowledge of the FARA requirements, as well as his intent and absence of mistake or accident in committing the charged FARA registration and false-statement offenses,” the 6-page motion says.

Manafort registered back then for some, but not all, of his lobbying work for Saudi Arabia contending at the time that only his firm BMSK – and not he personally – engaged in lobbying. It mattered then, according to the motion, because while Manafort was lobbying for foreign governments, he also served as the director of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which is a federal agency.

At the time, the White House refused to grant Manafort a waiver from the law’s requirements, forcing him to resign from his federal position on May 16, 1986.

According to the July 11 motion, the 1986 inspection uncovered 18 items Manafort failed to report with his Foreign Agent Registration Act filings.

“These omissions included memoranda summarizing lobbying by Manafort of Congress and the White House regarding a ‘Jerusalem Bill’ and a ‘Saudi Arms package,’ dissemination of press articles to Congress, lobbying of the National Security Council, and talking points ‘for phone calls on pending Saudi munitions sale,'” the motion says.

Manafort reportedly received a letter from the Justice Department alerting him that he needed to register such activities, and asking him to explain “special projects” for which received hundreds of thousands beyond what his contracts stipulated.

The inspection also found that BMSK failed to report some of its work for 10 foreign principals.

All of this, Weissmann’s motion says, shows that Manafort had full knowledge of the law’s requirements when he failed to register as a foreign lobbyist for a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party.

Manafort is charged with conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements and obstruction of justice in Washington, D.C. related to his Ukrainian lobbying work. He faces additional charges of tax and bank fraud in his Alexandria, Virginia case, the trial for which is slated to begin July 25.

Manafort has sought a delay in that case until after his Sept. 17 Washington, D.C. trial, as well as a change of venue, but the judge has yet to rule on those requests.

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