Manafort lied to investigators in Russia probe, judge rules | US News
Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators and a jury in the Russia probe, a judge has ruled.
The former Trump campaign chairman faces years in prison in two separate criminal cases connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
The judge found there was sufficient evidence to say Manafort, 69, broke his plea agreement by lying about three of five matters singled out by prosecutors.
It was found he misled the FBI, prosecutors and a federal grand jury about his involvement with Konstantin Kilimnik, his co-defendant who the FBI say is linked to Russian intelligence.
Manafort was also found to have lied about sharing polling data with Mr Kilimnik during the presidential campaign.
A meeting on 2 August, 2016, when he held a senior role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, took place at the Grand Havana Club cigar bar in New York.
Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said one of the discussions went to the “larger view of what we think is going on” and what “we think the motive here is”.
“This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the Special Counsel’s Office is investigating,” Mr Weissmann said, continuing: “That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the special counsel.”
Manafort’s lawyers had claimed he had not intentionally mislead investigators, but forgot some details until his memory was jogged. They also said it was not clear the topic was material to the investigation.
Manafort was cleared of two allegatoins, the judge ruling there was not enough evidence to support the allegation Manafort had intentionally lied about Mr Kilimnik’s role in witness tampering or what Manafort said about his contacts with the Trump administration.
The decison damages Manafort’s chances of receiving a reduced sentence.
The impact on his sentencing will be announced next month.
In September last year, he reached a plea deal after admitting one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.Ten other counts were dropped as part of the plea deal.
At the time, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign.
The month before, Manafort was found guilty of bank and tax fraud in August 2018 in what was seen as the first trial victory for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.