Judge: Manafort lied & violated plea deal

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Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to investigators about his contact with an associate the FBI has linked to Russian intelligence despite agreeing to a plea deal requiring him to tell the truth.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in a four-page order that the government met its burden of proof in showing that Mr. Manafort intentionally misled investigators on at least three matters. Her ruling voids the government’s obligations under the agreement to offer him leniency in exchange for his cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The ruling—which also said the government didn’t persuade the court that Mr. Manafort lied on two other issues—is another blow to the long-time political consultant who earned tens of millions of dollars advising politicians in Ukraine. It means that Mr. Manafort, who is already facing eight or more years in prison, potentially faces a longer punishment when he is sentenced next month.

In particular, the judge ruled that Mr. Manafort lied about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, as well as payments to a law firm, and that he made false statements relevant to another, unspecified Justice Department investigation.

At a sealed hearing last week, a prosecutor in Mr. Mueller’s office described Mr. Manafort’s contacts with Mr. Kilimnik as at “the heart” of what the special counsel is investigating, noting the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s assessment that Mr. Kilimnik had a “relationship with Russian intelligence.” Mr. Mueller’s office previously charged Mr. Kilimnik with helping Mr. Manafort try to influence potential witnesses in the investigation. Mr. Kilimnik remains at large.

It wasn’t clear whether the full investigation into communications between Messrs. Kilimnik and Manafort could move forward without Mr. Manafort’s cooperation.

The decision does mean that Mr. Manafort won’t receive any credit for his cooperation with prosecutors.

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