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Mueller: Manafort lied about contacts with Trump officials, associate with alleged Russian ties

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman,

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing in Washingtonon May 23, 2018. Credit: AP/Jose Luis Magana

WASHINGTON – Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday said Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, told “multiple discernible lies” to prosecutors about his contacts with the Trump administration and an associate with alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

In a 10-page heavily redacted filing with a Washington federal district court, Mueller’s office presented its evidence that Manafort, 69, breached the plea agreement he entered into in September by making false statements and deserves no leniency in his sentencing.

The much-anticipated memo shed little new light on Mueller’s Russia investigation, but it said Manafort recently had testified before a grand jury, on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. It also said he had provided information about another case. The filing did not offer any details.

The White House dismissed the filing, after President Donald Trump’s attacks on Mueller and his team in a string of tweets Friday morning.

“The government’s filing in Mr. Manafort’s case says absolutely nothing about the President. It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), an Intelligence Committee member, said the filings about former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and Manafort “outline serious and criminal wrongdoing,” including “lies” about meetings with “a suspected Russian intelligence operative.”

The filing said that after his Sept. 14 plea agreement, Manafort told prosecutors that he had no contact with anyone in the Trump administration – but it said texts, documents and a Manafort colleague showed he lied, and that he communicated with officials at least through May 2018.

“For instance, in a text exchange from May 26, 2018, Manafort authorized a person to speak with an Administration official on Manafort’s behalf,” the filing said.

And according to a Manafort colleague, the filing added, Manafort said in February 2018 that he “had been in communication with a senior Administration official” though the time of that conversation.

The filing also said Manafort lied about his communications and meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked in Manafort’s consulting firm and who prosecutors allege has ties to Russian intelligence. He also lied about Kilimnik’s role in witness tampering.

Manafort denied that Kilimnik was part of a criminal conspiracy to tamper with two witnesses by asking them to “tailor their testimony” to help them avoid a charge that they violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the filing said.

In his Sept. 14 plea agreement, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiring with Kilimnik to try to influence those two witnesses.

The filing also charged that Manafort lied while making several inconsistent statements about a $125,000 payment to a firm working for Manafort in 2017, and that he changed his versions of information pertinent to an investigation in another district.

Mueller’s team also asked to file a motion under seal to submit “the factual material that relates to pending investigations or uncharged individuals.”

On Sept. 14, Manafort entered the plea agreement – promising to cooperate – to avoid a second trial after being convicted of tax and bank fraud charges in August. He pleaded guilty to income tax fraud and failing to disclose lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukraine party.

The filing said Manafort, with his counsel, had met with Mueller’s office and the FBI 12 times and testified twice before a grand jury

In a joint filing with defense attorneys last week, Mueller’s team told the judge Manafort had breached the agreement by lying to them repeatedly – an accusation Manafort’s lawyers denied.

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