Mueller Says Manafort Lied to FBI After Guilty Plea

WASHINGTON (CN) – Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement with the Special Counsel’s office by “repeatedly” lying to the FBI and prosecutors during a recent series of interviews, according to a brief filed in federal court Monday evening.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves court after a May 23, 2018, hearing in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

According to the three-page joint status report filed by prosecutor Andrew Weissmann in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Manafort violated terms of his plea agreement and “committed federal crimes by lying to the [FBI] and the special counsel’s office on a variety of subject matters” after a series of interviews with law enforcement.

Weissmann did not say what Manafort lied about in the court document.

But Manafort’s actions led Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to ask U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to initiate Manafort’s sentencing.

In the status report, Manafort’s attorneys Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle defended the onetime lobbyist to the last. They said Manafort “provided information to the government in an effort to live up to his cooperation obligations.”

They “[do] not agree with the government’s characterization or that he has breached the agreement,” Downing wrote.

Despite this conflict, Downing agreed there is no further reason to delay sentencing.

For perspective, Courthouse News reached out to Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor and chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California in San Jose.

“Although this outcome is certainly a loss for Manafort, I don’t see it as either a victory or a loss for the Mueller team. It would have been better for the investigation to have Manafort as a fully cooperative witness,” de la Vega said.

By breaching the agreement, Manafort has also opened himself to a stiffer sentence, a risk that has many spectators scratching their heads.

“Many may speculate he is hoping for a pardon [from the president]. He may well be, but I don’t think [Manafort] should count on it. Trump will try to save himself only,” de la Vega said.

A federal jury in Virginia convicted Manafort on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in August.

He entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors a month later in Washington, where he also faced a series of charges including making false statements to authorities.

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